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Contribution from ION+2 fund for Ourobionics: Ending animal testing by replacing them by biofabricated human tissues




Wageningen startup makes drug development cheaper and more animal-

friendly


An investment from the ION+2 fund will enable Wageningen-based Ourobionics to continue developing human tissue to replace animal testing. Ourobionics can use advanced technology to replicate complex human tissue. Even more than animal tests, these tissues give a picture of the effect of drugs in the step before clinical trials. Customers of Ourobionics can thus develop new and better treatment methods, faster and cheaper.


The ION+2 innovation fund focuses on SMEs and is funded by the European Union's REACT-EU program. Oost NL is fund manager of ION+2.


In the development of new drugs and or treatment methods, we rely heavily on animal testing. Yet in 90% of the studies the results of animal tests do not match the clinical trials. This causes long delays and involves very high costs. The cost of developing an entirely new drug averages over 2 billion euros, Deloitte calculated. Authorities such as the EMA in Europe and the FDA in the United States are making a strong case for replacing animal testing and are striving to eliminate animal testing by 2035.


Complex human skin tissues


To make drug development cheaper and faster, and also free of animal suffering, Ourobionics has a solution on its hands. John Zandbergen is CEO at the young company: "We are focusing on the development of the biofabrication system called CHIMERA and the development of a complex skin model in which we want to implement sensors in the future. Then it will be possible to see exactly

how drugs interact with human skin ".


Ourobionics can adapt the skin models to customer requirements and incorporate various complex functionalities into them to get as close to reality as

possible. The company plans to make its CHIMERA biofabrication system commercially available to academic institutions in order to continue working together to develop various organ models within the skin segment. In the future, expansion toward other organ models is possible.


Investment accelerates development

ION+2's investment complements the company's ongoing development pathway. Together with the funding the company is receiving from the National Growth Fund program NXTGEN Hightech, the company can further develop its technology. Zandbergen: "The investment is recognition for the work we have done in the past 2 years. The confidence gained gives an enormous boost to our

organization. The investment enables us to reach the milestones required for follow-up investment. The cooperation and support of Oost NL is of great importance to end animal testing, something that as far as we are concerned should have happened yesterday"


Keanu Leenknegt, investment manager Health at Oost NL: "We want healthcare to remain accessible and affordable. Drug development is important, but also very expensive and time-consuming. Ourobionics has a potential solution in hand to reduce costs, accelerate development and at the same time banish animal testing to the past. These are companies we as Oost NL are happy to invest

in."


Oost NL is fund manager of ION+2, a fund for innovative entrepreneurs in the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. Ourobionics was founded in 2021 by John Zandbergen and Dr. Stephen Gray. Together with an international group of academic experts (Professor Suwan Jayasinghe, Professors Alvaro Matta and

ass. Professor Alireza Dolatshahi Pirouz) in the field of tissue engineering, they form the company. The company is licensed with the University College of London, where Professor Suwan Jayasinghe works.

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