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A New Drug Discovery and Personalized Treatment Approach for Ulcerative Colitis

Colitis Treatment
Co-developed by Sheba, CollPlant, and Tel Aviv University, a new rhCollagen-based 3D bioprinted human intestinal model will allow improved prediction of therapeutic responses in ulcerative colitis patients.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine in which the colon’s lining becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores or ulcers that require lifelong treatment. Patients respond differently or fail to respond to therapies, resulting in their exposure to unnecessary drugs and a delay in the provision of effective treatment. 

CollPlant, a regenerative and aesthetic medicine company developing innovative human collagen-based technologies and products, together with Ramot, the Technology Transfer Company of Tel Aviv University and Sheba, have entered into a new agreement for the development of a ‘gut-on-a-chip’ tissue model (in vitro microfluidic system devices used for studying the intestine), which should generate an accurate model of intestine tissue structure, allowing improved prediction of therapeutic responses in ulcerative colitis patients. 

The ‘gut-on-a-chip’ allows the engineering of an artificial gut containing various human cell types (intestinal epithelial, endothelial, and immune) with a controlled biochemical microenvironment. The in-vitro gut-on-chip platform combines CollPlant’s human recombinant collagen (rhCollagen) with other proprietary biomaterials and human cells. Designed to simulate the human intestine tissue, the 3D bio-printed model will allow medical professionals to identify drug targets and individual therapeutic responses that can lead to improved patient outcomes. 

The collaboration combines CollPlant’s expertise in high-precision 3D bioprinting and collagen-based bio-inks for scalable and reproducible bio-fabrication of human tissues, with Tel Aviv University’s ‘smart’ ‘organ-on-a-chip’ platform, and Sheba’s expertise in advanced screening. The co-development is led by Dr. Ben Maoz from Tel Aviv University, Dr. Yael Haberman from Sheba’s Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit, and CollPlant’s team of scientists and engineers. 

Keren Primor Cohen, CEO of Ramot at Tel Aviv University, spoke about the joint project: “The reusable, modular ‘organ-on-a-chip’ platform overcomes scientific data collection and imaging challenges posed by other in-market alternatives, pushing the industry another step forward in the direction of personalized treatment.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Mr. Yehiel Tal, CollPlant’s Chief Executive Officer, announced: “We are excited to embark on this important collaboration with Tel Aviv University and Sheba Medical Center. These acclaimed institutions are ideal partners for accelerating the development of representative models of the human intestine. Current models of inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis do not accurately mimic the intestine tissue structure with the induced disease and, consequently, have limited applicability in predicting therapeutic response. We believe the 3D bio-printed human intestine chip has the potential to accelerate new drug development, reduce costs, support development of personalized, highly effective treatments for ulcerative colitis and significantly reduce or eliminate the need for animal testing.”

On her part, Sheba’s Dr. Yael Haberman noted: “I am very much looking forward to our collaboration with CollPlant and Tel Aviv University, where we aim to generate a complex model system that will mimic gut epithelial barrier functions and will enable preclinical testing and screening of different interventions.”

A leading global healthcare organization, at Sheba, we are dedicated to providing superior diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of gastrointestinal diseases. Our expert clinicians, extensive experience in treating thousands of patients, and the use of advanced technology enable us to offer cutting-edge medical services, giving new hope to patients around the world. 

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