Utrecht, November 7, 2014 – Yesterday, during a ceremony attended by His Majesty the King, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp announced that Hans Clevers, founding director of foundation Hubrecht Organoid Technology (HUB), was nominated “National Icon 2014”. Projects with a potential to make significant contributions to solving global societal challenges qualify to become a National Icon. The organoid technology to grow human stem cell into ‘mini-organs’ discovered by Hans Clevers and his research group was one of four pioneering and highly innovative projects receiving this prestigious nomination.
With the National Icon competition the Dutch government challenges researchers in academia and industry to combine paradigm-shifting innovation with global ambitions to . A panel chaired by former minister Hans Wijers reviewed applications of 165 contestants and awarded National Icon status to project in the categories: ‘R&D breakthrough technology’, ‘industrial innovation’ and ‘inventor’. The National Icons will receive support in realizing their plans by being assigned a member of the Dutch Cabinet to act as an ambassador for the project.
The organoid technology
The organoid technology was discovered by the Clevers research group at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht who developed methods to grow stem cell-derived human ‘mini-organs’ from tissues of patients with various diseases including cancer. Organoids mimic an individual patient’s disease and can be applied, among others, to improve preclinical drug testing and validation and to predict a patient’s response to medicines. This approach is expected to bring personalized medicine closer to a realistic option for the near future. The mission of the HUB is to further develop the organoid technology for the benefit of patients and affordable health care.