Pezcoller Award Ceremony Hans Clevers
Last Saturday, prof.dr. Hans Clevers received the prestigious Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for his Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research. There was an announcement in March that Clevers was the winner of this prize for his research into mini-organs. Clevers is recognised worldwide as one of the foremost experts in stem cells. Stem cells are cells found in every organ. They ensure that organs regenerate and continue functioning properly. Clevers discovered that it is possible to grow mini-organs (also called organoids) from stem cells in the laboratory.
The importance of organoids
Organoids play a vital role in scientific research. Firstly, they are used to test new medicines, and in turn, researchers can see how these medicines affect the human body. And by growing organoids of individual patients in the laboratory, they are able to see how that particular patient reacts to certain medicines. In The Netherlands, they are already testing this on Cystic fibrosis. Lastly, organoids also offer the possibility to repair tissue by transplanting them. This may sound as science fiction, but it is not: in Groningen, at the UMCG, prof.dr. Rob Coppes is currently one of the first to transplant mini salivary glands into patients.
This is why a consortium of top international researchers, initiated by Lung Foundation Netherlands and led by Hans Clevers, is working on the mini-lung. Research is now focused on developing an organoid of the alveoli.