When we think about a virus, we often think about the flu. When you have the flu, you stay at home for a few days and you let your immune system fight the infection and, ultimately, get rid of it.
However, there are many viruses that can seriously impact our health. For example, respiratory tract infections (RTIs) and gastro-enteritis (GE) are viral infections that lead to morbidity and mortality. In addition, RTIs and GE are the main cause of death among children under the age of five.
Most RTIs have a viral origin and originate from influenza viruses (IV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human coronavirus (HCoV) and rhinovirus (RV). Each year, RV infections lead to 40 million days of absence from work or school in the United States alone.
GE is predominantly caused by Human Rotavirus (HRV) and human noroviruses (HuNoV). HRV has led to 453,000 annual deaths in children below the age of five.
Additionally, human picornaviruses are among the most common infections in mankind. Enteroviruses (EV) are human picornaviruses and are endemic worldwide. They cause 10-15 million infections worldwide and leads to at least 30,000-50,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States.
Ultimately, these viral infections pose a huge burden in terms of morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. OrganoVIR aims to study these viruses with organoids in order to prevent future infections and to test vaccines. In addition, organoid technology can also replace animal models and thus reduce animal use in virology. The goal of the project is to make organoids a superior model for virus research and to transform the virology landscape.
OrganoVIR is an ITN that trains 15 Early Stage Researchers to lead innovation in the field of organoids for virology.
OrganoVIR’s innovative nature lies in its training programme, which combines the research projects with high quality training in the fields of communication, dissemination and business. The training programme will allow for OrganoVIR to deliver well-rounded individuals who are trained in organoids for virus research, providing them with a unique position within the European labour market.
OrganoVIR is built up out of 6 work packages. Work packages 2 to 5 are ‘research work packages’ and focus on achieving OrganoVIR’s research mission, namely to establish human organoids as superior models for virus research.
These research work packages are supported by Work package 1, the ‘LEARN’ work package, as well as Work package 6, the ‘NAVIGATE’ work package. More information about each work package is provided below.
OrganoVIR is comprised out of 10 beneficiaries and 5 partners from various sectors such as academics, industry as well as governmental and non-profit sectors. Each beneficiary and partner has expertise in the fields of virology, organoid technology, ethics, policy, business, education or communication. With this broad range of expertise, OrganoVIR will have a significant impact on the European virology landscape.