In Vitro Models of Disease

In Vitro Models of Disease

Current biomedical research depends increasingly on reliable in vitro models to study the biology of disease and predict the safety and efficacy of new therapies. Good in vitro models are needed for the successful development of new regenerative strategies, new drugs and drug targets.

A major challenge to improve current cell culture systems as in vitro models, is to exploit the versatility of biology while keeping systems simple, cheap, robust and reproducible. A key objective in this context is the design of extracellular matrix (ECM) mimics, providing the essential characteristics of a natural ECM in its ability to direct and control cell behaviour, yet with minimal complexity.

This line of activity in our lab focuses on developing 3D tissues for drug/product testing, with ongoing projects in:

  • Materials to control infection, nano-vibrational bioreactor tissue models for drug discovery (EPSRC funding)
  • Environment for improved haematopoietic stem cell growth and improved mesenchymal stem cell quality (BBSRC funding)
  • Engineering nano-vibrational / piezo active environments for bone cell engineering (BBSRC funding)
  • Engineering non-pathogenic bacterial environments to support bone formation. Recombinant FN7-10 and FN12-14 fragments can be used to model the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) to osteogenic cell types for in vitro systems. (Leverhulme Trust funding)
  • And studentships (EPSRC, BBSRC, MRS) on bioengineering areas related to cardio, bone, cartilage, bone marrow, cancer and cancer dormancy, airway, blood/brain barrier and infection modelling.