The CONNECT project is awarded 1.3 million euros from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for the development of an innovative measurement method to better understand the brain. Elga de Vries, professor of molecular cell biology at Amsterdam UMC and Elly Hol, professor of biology and brain diseases at UMC Utrecht, are working together in this research project.

Blood-brain barrier

The development of drugs for brain diseases is difficult for several reasons. Unfortunately, the blood-brain barrier, which is there to prevent all kinds of undesirable substances from entering the brain, also causes important medicines to be stopped. In addition, animal models with which research is carried out mimic but limit the disease in patients.

CONNECT project

The research by Elly Hol and Elga de Vries, called CONNECT, aims to develop a human cell model that is closer to the patient than current cell and animal models. They do this by using the latest technology from human stem cells to develop blood-brain barrier cells and link them to mini-brains. Their research project, on innovative mini-brains, is one of out of six that received NWO funding to work on better predictive health research and less dependency on animal experiments.

Human measurement models 2.0

The funding De Vries and Hol receive fits within the NWO research program Human Measurement Models 2.0. The focus of the funded public-private partnerships is the development of human measurement models for research into the treatment and/or prevention of diseases. It is expected that research models based on human material, such as cells and tissues, will better approximate the situation in humans than laboratory animal models. The funding is made available by the Association of Collaborating Health Foundations (SGF), Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (Health-Holland), ZonMw, and NOW.

Read more about the NWO grant for research into human measurement models.