Team:TU-Eindhoven/Human Practices/Stakeholders



Talking to experts

To make our project and application scenario more viable, we talked to several experts in the field. A short summary of each of these talks can be found below.

Wilhelm Huck


After our Skype call with Zoë Robaey in which we had a small brainstorm session about possible stakeholders for our application, we thought of our system as some sort of toolbox for synthetic cells. Since Wilhelm Huck’s research is about the synthetic cells, we decided to set up a meeting with him to see whether our idea is something he would work with.

Wilhelm Huck’s first remark about our idea was the fact that a 4-4 valency would also lead to network formation, so 4-3 would not be necessary to induce a network. Furthermore, he thought that our network will form a gel instead of a coacervate, since the interactions we use are quite specific. For synthetic organelles, coacervates would be preferred over a gel. Summarizing, our meeting with Wilhelm Huck has given us some new insights in the research done in synthetic organelles.

Marileen Dogterom


Since we were in Delft for the European iGEM meet-up we decided to have a meeting with Marileen Dogterom, because of her work on the synthetic cytoskeleton and synthetic cells. It became clear that our project does not necessarily have overlap with her research, but she gave us some good ideas for an eventual application. If the interactions of the gel could also be controlled by (UV-)light, the interactions could be screened in such a way that the gel only forms very locally. Furthermore, she also thought that an application of a drug delivery system, in which the gel would break down controllably, could be possible.

Ignace de Hingh


Ignace de Hingh is a surgeon in the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven. He is specialized in complex oncological surgeries, like operations on pancreas cancer. We had a meeting with him to get feedback on the application of our gel: the encapsulation of tumors.

Ignace saw some potential in our idea, as it is a new way of targeting/using matrix metallo proteinases (MMPs). He mentioned that in the abdominal tissue it is challenging to get a good image of tumor cells, a laser has to be used to make them visible. To make this process easier, a fluorescent protein combined with our gel could be a possibility. As for our project, Ignace had some recommendations for the details. In order to make our application scenario more viable, it is also important to think about the exact type of proteases that we want to target. Moreover, it is very important to consider that MMPs play a role in a variety of processes. To make our application more viable, it is thus important to think about how to make it selective.

Arnoud Sonnenberg


Arnoud Sonnenberg is a Group Leader at Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the Netherlands Cancer Institute. His group focuses on cell-matrix adhesion and since tumors alter the extracellular matrix, we thought that it would be good to reach out to him about our application scenario.
Arnoud thought that the technology is very interesting, because encapsulation of tumors could prevent growth factors from reaching the tumor, thereby stalling their growth. However, he also expressed his concern whether the tumor can be completely encapsulated. Furthermore, there is also a downside to encapsulation as it may prevent the body’s immune system from reaching the tumor.

To test the applicability of encapsulation tumors in a future project, it would be very interesting to set up an experiment with an organoid model system in Matrigel of tumor cells secreting MMPs. Growth factors can be added to the medium after which the tumors can grow. When we add our GUPPI system, it could be tested if the tumor growth is inhibited. So, until tests like these can be done it is unclear whether a whole tumor can be encapsulated, but it is possible to test this in the future.