Developing a platform of in vitro models of asthmatic and healthy lung: an alternative to the use of animals in asthma research

Asthma is a complex inflammatory disease of the lungs. Despite new treatments for asthma sufferers constantly being developed, not all patients respond well and asthma related deaths remain high (one every 19 minutes) and 20 million working days are lost each year in the UK alone. The only way to improve treatments for those suffering with severe asthma and to reduce the number of associated deaths is to understand the biology of the disease, to find out why not all asthma sufferers respond to treatments in the same way, and to use this information to identify, develop and test new drugs. The only problem is that we currently have to use animals to do much of this work but the animals used (mainly mice) do not spontaneously develop asthma. For this reason, they are not thought to be a good model of human asthma which may mean we miss vital information important for our research. This project aims to use methods being used to grow tissues in the laboratory (called ‘tissue engineering') to build ‘living' models of the human asthmatic lung (and healthy tissue for comparison) that can be used to understand this disease and test new drugs.

Morris GE, Bridge JC, Brace LA, Knox AJ, Aylott JW, Brightling CE, Ghaemmaghami AM, Rose FR (2014) A novel electrospun biphasic scaffold provides optimal three-dimensional topography for in vitro co-culture of airway epithelial and fibroblast cells. Biofabrication 6(3):035014 doi:10.1088/1758-5082/6/3/035014

Morris GE, Bridge JC, Eltboli OM, Lewis MP, Knox AJ, Aylott JW, Brightling CE, Ghaemmaghami AM, Rose FR (2014) Human airway smooth muscle maintain in situ cell orientation and phenotype when cultured on aligned electrospun scaffolds. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 307(1):L38-47. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00318.2013.

Harrington H, Cato P, Salazar F, Wilkinson M, Knox A, Haycock JW, Rose F, Aylott JW, Ghaemmaghami AM (2014). Immunocompetent 3D model of human upper airway for disease modeling and in vitro drug evaluation. Mol Pharm. 11(7):2082-91. doi: 10.1021/mp5000295. 

Harrington H, Rose FR, Aylott JW, Ghaemmaghami AM (2013). Self-reporting scaffolds for 3-dimensional cell culture. J Vis Exp. 7:(81):e50608. doi: 10.3791/50608.

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Strategic grant

Grant reference number

G1001804/1

Award date:

Feb 2011 - Dec 2013

Grant amount

£499,467