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In addition to ethical concerns, animal experiments also have other disadvantages, including the need for qualified personnel, the length of the experiments, the costs, and the questionable transferability of the results to humans. Around 11 million animals are used for research in Europe every year. The European Union is under pressure to end the use of animals and promote alternatives - but unfortunately acceptable methods sometimes fall short of expectations.

Research on stem cells and developmental biology have made it possible to create small pieces of tissue, so-called organoids. These are groups of cells grown in the laboratory that have organized themselves into cell structures that resemble those of organs. In many cases, the cells and cellular structures give organoids abilities that mirror those of the organs they resemble. This technology is becoming a promising way to study organ function and disease, as well as predict the safety and effectiveness of new drugs.

Our goal is to establish a versatile canine mini platform by integrating different organoid types, replacing animal testing with a special focus on the gastrointestinal tract and related organs. As pioneers in the field of canine organoids, we have established intestinal and liver organoids and will produce and characterize brain and pancreatic organoids with the aim of modelling gastrointestinal diseases and the gut-brain axis. In addition, thanks to the modular nature of our technology, we can easily integrate other organoids, if necessary, thereby simulating and studying dynamic organ-organ interactions. The design of our model can therefore be tailored to scientific questions and optimized to achieve specific research goals. Our design allows messenger substances to diffuse and reach other organoids while the individual organoids remain separated. To ensure compatibility with commonly used laboratory instruments (such as microscopes and plate readers) and to dramatically reduce operating costs, we also aim to standardize the platform and make it easier accessible to other laboratories. Our system can be adapted to other cell types, including human and other animal models.