A tissue engineered construct to monitor mucosal immunity in asthma

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Medicine


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Technical Summary

Asthma is a common lung disease characterized by wheeze and shortness of breath. It affects 5.1 million people in the UK, with an annual health care cost of #2.5 billion and 20 million working days lost. It is widely accepted in academia and industry that the ability of animal models to generate novel treatments in asthma has been disappointing. This may be because animal models fail to mimic key genetic and environmental interactions that cause the human disease. However, current alternatives using isolated human cells or tissues are relatively simplistic, and lack the dynamic influx of blood cells from the circulation that normally occurs in tissues in vivo. Thus, our multidisciplinary project will incorporate cells taken from the blood and airways of asthmatic volunteers into a microfluidic platform to enable delivery of blood cells to a tissue engineered construct comprising an endothelial (blood) and epithelial (airway surface) barrier. Our constructs will be integrated with multiparametric monitoring systems to assess the influx of blood cells into the tissue in response to viruses and air pollutants that trigger asthma attacks. This system has the potential to reduce the need for animals in target discovery and in screening new treatments for asthma.


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