Research ambition

Our ambition is to develop innovative analytical strategies for metabolomics-driven systems biology in personalized health strategies. We want to deliver novel phenotypic read-outs for diagnosis and patient stratification for treatment based on innovative metabolomics, UPE and organ-on-a-chip technologies and methods. Using a systems pharmacology and systems biology approach we aim to obtain insights in disease mechanisms and to translate these for the realization of personalized medicine.

Our research focuses on the following themes



Development of novel analytical technologies for metabolomics and systems pharmacology

Animation of our hanging droplet solvent enrichment module
We are aiming to develop novel technologies to allow better sample preparation or coupling of analytical methods to (i) analyse ultra small samples, (ii) to analyse more metabolites in a quantitative manner and/or (iii) increase the sample throughput.

Thomas Hankemeier explaining some novel developments

We will further develop novel analytical methods we recently developed and patented such as depleted zone isotachophoresis, two-phase or three-phase electroextraction, or our hanging droplet solvent enrichment module.


Development of novel metabolomics and systems pharmacology methods

We are developing biology-driven platforms to measure metabolites based on liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), gas chromatography-MS (GC-MS), and capillary electrophoresis-MS (CE-MS). We have developed a unique series of untargeted platforms (to cover the physicochemical and biochemical space of metabolites) and targeted biology-driven platforms (to cover specific metabolites present at ultra-low concentrations and/or requiring specialised sample pre-treatment). Our current metabolomics methods can detect >2000 metabolites and lipids; half of these compounds are identified, and 25% are reported in absolute concentrations. For example, we are interested to better study modified fatty acids and lipids.
We are miniaturizing our platforms using nanoLC-MS and improving the injection into CE-MS and the interfacing of CE and MS.

Development of organ-on-a-chip systems for translational and personalized medicine

We have developed a microfluidic platform for complex 3D organotypic cell cultures (so-called organ-on-a-chip systems) which are suited for integration in 96 or higher well plate format. These systems allow drug screening studies or the study of disease mechanisms and their modifications by pharmacology. We use imaging, biochemical and metabolomics assays as phenotypic readouts. As we can create organ-on-a-chip models based on patient derived cells (based on primary cells or via induced pluripotent stem cells), we can study differences between patients in bodyfluids of patients and in our in-vitro models.
Recently, we have launched the Organ-on-a-chip company MIMETAS based on this technology.

Development of novel metabolomics & systems pharmacology concepts to realize personalized medicine

The predication of the effect (efficiency and toxicity) of a drug in a patient is very important in (i) clinical decision support and (ii) the development of novel drug treatments. We apply our technology and methods to find biomarkers for key disease pathways and toxicity in clinical studies and in in-vitro (organ-on-a-chip) and animal models. For example, we try to understand why 30% of diabetic patients develop kidney disease, and why not all patients benefit from pharmacological treatment to prevent kidney disease. This can help to predict the proper treatment of patients (who needs what treatment), and to develop novel pharmacological interventions taking interindividual differences patients into account. Next to (cardio)vascular diseases we apply this approach also to neurodegenerative diseases.

Sino-Dutch Centre for Preventive and Personalized Medicine

The Sino-Dutch Centre for Preventive and Personalized Medicine (SD PPM) develops systems diagnostics and system interventions based on  a system view on life. The research bridges the different scientific concepts underlying Western and Chinese medicine, based on biochemical language within a Systems Biology approach, as published in Nature and recently in Science. The systems biology investigations of the SD PPM points to improved subtyping of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. As a result it can be applied  to further personalize treatments for patients in modern (Western) medicine. In addition it provides new insights in synergetic mechanisms in intervention as well as the relevance of a biopsychosocial perspective on health and disease. Read more


Our high throughput Metabolomics Facility for academic and industrial collaborations

We analysis small or larger sample sets for our projects, or for our academic or industrial research partners, in our Metabolomics Facility. Check out what we can do for you! Read more