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Roche to found Institute for Human Biology

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Roche to found Institute for Human Biology


Roche has announced that it will be establishing the Institute of Human Biology in Basel. Up to 250 employees will be tasked with promoting the broad application of human model systems in pharmaceutical research and clinical practice.

Roche global headquarters in Basel (image: Roche)

The pharma group Roche is establishing an Institute of Human Biology (IHB) in Basel. In conjunction with a satellite laboratory in Schlieren in the canton of Zurich, scientists and bioengineers will in future carry out research there on living 2D or 3D miniature replicas of human tissue and organs, which are more commonly referred to as organoids.

These human models are created on the basis of human stem cells. According to a press release issued by Roche, in this way the dependency on animal testing could be reduced. Moreover, human model systems could potentially facilitate the discovery of new human biology and the identification of drug targets that would otherwise be impossible using classical discovery methods.

“Human model systems such as organoids are the future of our industry”, explains Prof. Dr. Hans Clevers, Head of Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) at Roche and a pioneer in the field of organoids. These could potentially help to develop more effective and safer medicines that could, in turn, be made available to patients more quickly.

Researchers with great scientific freedom

The number of employees is set to rise to around 250 over the next four years. According to Roche, the researchers have the opportunity to pursue basic research activities with “great scientific freedom”. The insights gained will not only benefit the Group, but in many cases will also be made available to the broader scientific community and regulatory authorities.

“The work at the IHB has the potential to redefine how we discover and develop medicines over the next decade”, comments Dr. Matthias Lutolf, Head IHB at Roche, in the press release. “The institute is uniquely positioned in bringing together biology, bioengineering and data science around human model systems and applying them to real-world challenges in drug discovery and research”, he concludes.

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