Developing a 3D human lymph node model for organ-on-chip

Andrew Morrison, PhD: Amsterdam UMC (VUmc) – The netherlands

Lymph nodes and tonsils are secondary lymphoid organs that are fundamental in orchestrating the adaptive immune response. They have a highly specialized architecture that is regulated by non-hematopoietic Fibroblast Reticular Cells (FRCs), which support immune cell functioning. The global study of human antigen and tissue-specific immune responses lacks robust lymph node organoid and organ-on-chip models due to their complexity and high immune cell diversity, where the inclusion of stromal cells is also absent. Therefore, creating such models with a stromal cell component to study immune cells in 3D is beneficial for developing a more realistic microenvironment that can be used in future for research involving immunotherapy, toxicological and anti-cancer drug testing.

Neuro-immune interactions to control chronic pain development

Dr. Hanneke Willemen: UMC Utrecht – The netherlands

Acute nociceptive pain, induced by noxious stimuli, tissue damage, or inflammation, is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. Acute pain serves an important protective warning function, and normally disappears when the stimulus is not present anymore. Chronic pain, however, can develop independent of the initial trigger(s), and in general lost its protective or restorative goal. Chronic pain affects 20% of people worldwide, of whom an estimated 3 million live in The Netherlands. A common feature of chronic pain is maladaptive neuronal activity in the peripheral or central nervous system maintaining the pathological pain state. This aberrant neuronal activity is common in many chronic pain conditions induced by e.g. arthritis, chemotherapy, diabetes resulting in a reduced threshold for neuronal activation and/or increased signalling intensity. Current available treatments are often ineffective to treat chronic pain and may induce severe side effects. There are many efforts to develop treatments, but these often fail in clinical trials. In part, because the understanding of the underlying mechanisms that promote chronic pain is limited. We and others found the interaction between sensory neurons and immune cells has important consequences for pain processing in the peripheral and central nervous system. For example, infiltration of immune cells, such as macrophages, are observed in nervous tissues. Macrophages can release a variety of cytokines that can directly activate neurons. This mini-lecture will give understanding of the neuroimmune interface and how this will induce neuronal sensitization and pain in animal models. Finally, I will highlight new promising pharmacological targets for pain relief at the neuroimmune interface.


Genomics driven machine learning for predicting pathogen success

 Dr. Tim Dallman: Utrecht University – The netherlands

The talk will explain how we can leverage routine genomic surveillance of infectious diseases to drive predictive models to better understand, transmission, disease severity and risk.

Dr Tim Dallman is an international expert in pathogen genomics, phylogenetics and bioinformatics with respect to foodborne pathogens. He trained as a bioinformatician at University College London employing machine learning techniques to improve remote homology detection for the assignment of proteins into structural and functional families.He joined the Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences at the University of Utrecht in Ocotober 2021 as an Assistant Professor where his research interests focus on genomic analysis of foodborne pathogens and their environment from a one health perspective.

Previously he worked for over ten years at UKHSA as the Lead for Bioinformatics of Gastrointestinal Pathogens and led the implementation of whole genome sequencing methodologies into reference microbiology and infectious disease surveillance

He is a regular expert participant at working groups on food safety and genomics organised by international organisations including ECDC, WHO and UN-FAO and has had considerable interactions with the food industry to help inform how genomic microbiology can be leveraged in this sector and how it can feed into risk and assessment and public health surveillance.  He is currently a Senior Technical Advisor for the International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN) at the World Health Organisation.

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