Chief Scientific Officer, Epithelix, Geneva, Switzerland
Development and use of 3D in vitro models of human respiratory epithelia for studying respiratory diseases
Due to species difference as well as the cellular tropism of human pathogens like viruses and bacteria, it’s often difficult and even irrelevant to study infectious human diseases using animals.
Development and use of 3D in vitro models of human tissues represent a promising alternative to animal experiments. Epithelix, a biotech company, develops and commercializes the human 3D tissues for scientific researches and for drug development. For the moment, Epithelix focuses mainly on human respiratory systems. Two distinct models have been developed and are currently available: MucilAir™ and SmallAir™, representing nasal/bronchial airway epithelia and small airway epithelia respectively. These tissues are made of primary human cells with one or two passages only. Morphologically and functionally, it mimics the native tissues of the human respiratory epithelium (presence of basal cells, goblet cells, Club cells, ciliated cells and tight junctions, active ion transport, mucus secretion, cilia beating, cytokine release, etc...).These two models have a long shelf-life, allowing long term studies. These in vitro models are robust and can be delivered worldwide.
The relevance of these 3D in vitro models of human respiratory epithelia for studying the human infectious diseases is exemplified by the efficient infection and replication of human Rhinoviruses type C (HRV-C) in MucilAir™. This family of viruses were identified by molecular biology tools (PCR and sequencing). No animal models or traditional cell models are suitable for growing RVC. Up to now, the 3D in vitro models of human respiratory epithelia are the unique tool for studying human RVC infections.
In addition to its function as physical barrier, airway epithelia play also a key role in immune responses against pathogens. We are currently working on immune-competent in vitro 3D coculture models, using THP-1 derived macrophages or primary alveolar macrophages. Significant progresses have also been made in the development of a human alveolar model (AlveolAir™).
Our final goal is to integrate the macrophages with alveolar epithelia at ALI conditions.
Contact: Céline Cougoule (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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