Developing a miniature bone model with an ERC Starting grant

Xiao-Hua Qin has won a prestigious ERC grant to develop a new type of in vitro model of human bone. Qin has recently been appointed as Assistant Professor of Biomaterials Engineering at ETH Zurich.

NRP 79 congratulates Xiao-Hua Qin, project leader at NRP 79, on winning a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant financed by SERI and an assistant professorship at ETH Zurich. His research team is focusing on developing novel biomaterials and advanced manufacturing techniques for in vitro models of bone development and disease.

In Switzerland, around 400,000 people, mainly elderly women, suffer from osteoporosis, which is characterised by increased risk of bone fractures. There are currently various ways of treating osteoporosis, but no actual cure. The aim of these treatments is to delay the progression of the disease. New treatment options are therefore a top priority - but in order to develop these, stressful animal experiments are currently unavoidable.

Xiao-Hua Qin's team at ETH Zurich is developing new research tools with the potential to alleviate human bone diseases such as osteoporosis. The team is developing organ-on-chip models based on human cells that can be used not only to study bone diseases in the laboratory, but also to develop new treatments in the future.

"The advantage is that the two research projects, funded by the ERC and the SNSF’s NRP 79, are closely related to each other in terms of advancing the 3R principle," says Qin. The research project funded by NRP 79, which focuses on new treatment methods for the rare bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta, will therefore benefit from the knowledge gained in the ERC project.