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Research Project: MICRODEG: Neuronal Networks in microfluidic chips for the study of propagative neuronal disorders

The maintenance, improvement and restoration of human health are of fundamental importance and priority in all countries. Biomedical and health research provide an important basis for the improvement of healthy living. Among the many diseases affecting human health, disorders of the brain are major causes of morbidity, mortality and impaired quality of life. According to estimates, more than one billion people suffer from disorders of the central nervous system. In Europe, disorders of the brain account for approximately one-third of the total burden of all diseases. Thus, neuroscience research and its translation into diagnostic and therapeutic measures are of high priority.

In this context, the 'Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research' (NEURON) has been established under the ERA-Net scheme of the European Commission ( The goal of the ERA-Net NEURON is to coordinate the research efforts and funding programmes of European countries in the field of disease related neuroscience.

Abstract: Neurological syndromes such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and Huntington diseases shares similar degenerative signatures by promoting progressive aggregation of endogenous proteins in the brain. Recent evidences have shown that similarly to infectious prion diseases, pathological hallmarks of these syndromes spread progressively along neuronal pathways in the brain. The reason underlying these processes are unknown. They could involve several non exclusive phenomena ranging from abnormal synaptic transmission, progressive disconnection of neuronal hubs; to the spreading of aggregated proteins in between neurons. While these processes are classically studied in whole animals, reliable in vitro model that allows the precise and fast study of molecular and cellular responses in an ordered environment are lacking. Using cutting edge technologies we propose to develop micro-brain platforms allowing the in vitro reconstruction and manipulation of both rodent and human neuronal networks. These new experimental systems will be used to study the underlying mechanisms involved in the spatial progression of neurodegenerative hallmarks of Parkinson and Huntington diseases and test whether scenario proposed in mouse models (prion-like propagation) are pertinent for human. Overall in addition to the testing of a fundamental biology question, the proposed project goes with the trend of building “organ on chips” that are envisioned to allows production accurate models for the study of human diseases.

Principal Investigator(s): Offenhäusser, Andreas

Partner:  Dr. JM Peyrin (CNRS UMR7102, UPMC, Paris), Dr JL Viovy (Institut Curie/CNRS/UPMC, Paris), Prof. J Castilla (CIC bioGUNE - Proteomics unit (Prion lab). Derio (Spain), Dr. A Perrier (Inserm/UEVE UMR 861, Evry (France)

Webpage:   ----- (under construction)

Project start: 01.10.2013

Probable end: 30.09.2016

Status:   Active