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Cell Symposium: Engineering Organoids and Organs

These symposia are organised by Cell press (i.e. the Cell journals) by the editors of the Cell journals on topics that are transforming science and medicine. Professor Hans Clevers, Netherlands, who pioneered the adult stem cell derived organoid field, was a co-organiser and keynote speaker at the symposium. The Clevers lab were the first to establish organoids from adult tissue-restricted stem cells, and then the first to establish organoids from patient derived normal and diseased human tissues, including cancer. These advances are transforming the stem cell, cancer and other diseases, and regenerative medicine fields. The Clevers lab was able to do this because they discovered Lgr5 as a specific marker of adult epithelial tissue stem cells. Thus stem cells could be identified and their progeny traced for the first time. This led to an exponential increase in “organoid” publications as many fields adopted this new technology.

Prof Vincan has a long-standing collaboration with Hans Clevers and Nick Barker, who discovered Lgr5 while in the Clevers lab, based on a common interest in Wnt signalling, and her team has been using organoids in the lab for almost 10 years. Hans did his first sabbatical in the Vincan lab in 2015. Organoids helped us establish Frizzled 7 as a Wnt receptor in stem cells and a potent anti-cancer treatment target. The Vincan lab’s aim now is to establish a variety of organoids derived from tissues relevant to pathogen outbreaks and she met with Dr Robert Vries, CEO of HUB, who was also at the meeting. The HUB (Hubrecht Organoid Technology) was established by Hans Clevers as a not-for-profit Organoid BioBank as a resource for research and medicine.

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