Roche launches Institute of Human Biology for human model systems to advance research and drug development

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

May 5, 2023 -- Roche on Thursday announced the launch of the Institute of Human Biology (IHB), focused on advancing medical research through human model systems such as organoids. Using human model systems, the IHB aims to accelerate drug discovery and development through understanding how diseases develop and organs function.

Human model systems are miniature 2D or 3D living-tissue replicas of human organs and tissues. Not only do human model systems reflect human biology and disease processes with greater fidelity than animal models, but their use also has the potential to reduce reliance on animal testing.

"Human model systems such as organoids are the future of our industry. They have the potential to enhance almost all the steps involved in the research and development of an innovative medicine," Dr. Hans Clevers, head of pharma research and early development (pRED) at Roche and a pioneer in the field of organoids, said in a statement. "The IHB will address long-standing and urgent challenges in drug discovery and development with the ambition to bring more effective and safer medicines to patients faster."

The newly launched institute is based in Basel, Switzerland. Roche said it anticipates that the staff, comprising scientists and bioengineers from both academia and the pharmaceutical industry, will grow to around 250 within four years. Researchers from the IHB will collaborate with the world's leading experts and scientific partners on better, faster drug development, Roche added.

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