Cross-Health Platform

Plants, animals and humans have a lot in common and are interconnected. If a solution for a health problem is found in one species, this can potentially help other species. Several research groups at Ghent University have expertise and technologies that can be the basis of new health applications. The goal of the Cross-Health platform is to evaluate these new technologies for applications in multiple species and to coordinate proof of concept studies for the benefit of human, animal and/or plant health.

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With the support of the Industrial Research Fund of the Flemish government, Ghent University provides proof of concept funding to bridge the gap between academia and industry. As part of this, the Cross-Health platform maps the expertise and technologies present at Ghent University for the following disciplines: veterinary and human medicine, plant biotechnology, bio-engineering (sensors, medical devices), medicinal chemistry and data sciences. Afterwards, new opportunities for the development of innovative health applications based on multidisciplinary collaboration are identified and listed. They are prioritized according to preset criteria such as fulfilment of an unmet need, IP options, uniqueness of the technology and capabilities of the research teams. Then, the Cross-Health platform offers researchers support for coordination of the research consortium, project writing and project management for the interdisciplinary proof of concept studies.

Other Cross-Health platform initiatives include sharing expertise on (alternative) animal models, thereby improving the researchers’ ability to find the most appropriate model for their research. Furthermore, researchers are encouraged to network via interdisciplinary connecting expertise events to consider the same issue from different angles.

The Cross-Health platform is an initiative of the IOF Business Development Centers ChemTech LS, CropFit, Discovere, e-Poly, INDATA, MEDTEG and PROVAXS (LEAD) in collaboration with HIRUZ.

Examples of opportunities 

  • Infectious health: Considering the rise of zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial/fungal resistance, a coordinated approach between species is of critical importance. Cross-species expertise enables a fast and responsible approach on e.g. current use of (alternatives for) antibiotics. Furthermore, similar immunization mechanisms exist between animal and human for which the field could benefit from the vast complementary experience and technology available in human and veterinary medicine.
  • Degenerative health: Animal patients spontaneously develop diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and arthritis. Some conditions occur more in animals than humans, such as osteosarcomas. This bone tumor affects dogs 10-50 times more than humans, depending on the dog race. Therefore, more treatments can be tested via dogs with spontaneous tumors than via children alone. Moreover, the data are obtained faster and are more predictive than the currently available rodent model data. Finally, this approach is mutually beneficial as the dog receives a broader access to treatment opportunities.
  • Mental health: Mental health issues such as anxiety disorders occur in human and animal alike. Dogs offer superior cerebrospinal fluid sampling opportunities to humans and easier control over a variety of parameters such as diet, environmental exposure and hormonal status.