A new research center, StemScreen, will be established in reNEW’s premises at the University of Copenhagen thanks to a multi-million grant from Innovation Fund Denmark. StemScreen will be headed by Professor Kim Bak Jensen, the deputy director of the Copenhagen Node at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine, reNEW.
It is nowadays possible to build fully functional human mini organs with stem cells that can be used to mimic a variety of diseases. These organoids as they also are called can be used to establish disease models in the lab that replicate the disease picture seen in patients.
StemScreen will use mini organs to better understand specific diseases that are currently difficult to treat with a view of developing new drugs. The use of organoids can potentially reduce the cost for developing new prescription drugs (currently estimated to exceed USD 2.6 billion on average) and lead to the development of medicines for currently untreatable diseases.
“The pharma industry has realized that there is a huge untapped potential in disease models developed from stem cells. Our complementary competencies in stem cell disease modeling and drug development expertise, together with the investment from Innovation Fund Denmark, will lead to the establishment of StemScreen. Here, we will combine our stem cell expertise with state-of-the-art equipment for image analysis to put Denmark at the forefront of identifying new drug candidates,” Professor Jensen said.
The establishment of StemScreen is made possible by a DKK 24.5 million grant (EUR 3.3 million) from Innovation Fund Denmark.
“This grant is a great opportunity for reNEW. It will enable us to expand our research in several areas. Our aims are to develop or utilize existing disease models based on stem cells to identify new drug candidates for diseases such as glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, viral infections, and inflammatory diseases,” Professor Jensen said.
The project is a collaboration between two Danish biotech firms – Bioneer A/S and Synklino A/S – Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine, reNEW, the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology and Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.