Scaling up stem cell-derived organoid biomanufacturing

Imagine a world where an unlimited number of organs were available for transplantation and research. We could reduce the use of animals in research. When certain organs fail, we could replace them. This may sound like a science fiction trope, but recent technologies in biology and engineering are now making this possible.

Today, microscopic organ models called “organoids” can be produced in Petri dishes. Large quantities of pluripotent stem cells can be grown, and these stem cells can be turned into different types of organoids. Pluripotent stem cells can be derived from a skin or blood sample. So why are we still using animals and cancer cell lines in drug development? Why can’t we transplant these organoids?

Even though organoids are manufactured in several laboratories, protocols vary between and even within each research group. This means that current protocols are typically not sufficiently robust or validated. Most of the time, only tens or hundreds of organoids are produced at a time, whereas nearly a million are needed per patient to treat diabetes, as an example. Quality control also varies greatly from one laboratory to another.

The aim of this project is to bring together several players in Quebec to standardize practices, establish quality measures and robust protocols, and scale up production. Students and staff from 12 labs in Quebec will work together to produce these advanced therapies, while developing unique skills in biomanufacturing of clinical-grade cells. The current project focuses on pancreatic organoids to treat type 1 diabetes, liver organoids to treat liver failure, and brain organoids to study neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. The long-term vision is to make a wide range of organoids available for clinical and basic research, as well as cell therapy.

Teams involved in this project:
Out-of-province collaborator:
National Research Council of Canada:
Industrial collaborators and partners:
Networks directly supporting the project:
Research Foundations:
Organizations supporting team members:


To learn more, see the project description on the Médicament Québec website and the video below where Prof. Corinne Hoesli talks about the project in an event co-organized by Médicament Québec and Montreal InVivo (both in French).



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