Spotlight on:
Microphysiological Systems for Infectious Disease Modelling

Microphysiological Systems

UKHSA Scientists at the UKHSA Vaccine Development Evaluation Centre are using advanced cell culture techniques to grow human organ systems in the laboratory. These organ systems will allow vaccine, drug, and therapeutic developers to evaluate how well their products can protect humans from infectious disease before embarking on clinical trials, whilst also addressing the ethical requirement to replace or reduce the use of animals wherever possible.

This is a step change from more traditional techniques and supports meeting UKHSA's requirements as signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK Microphysiological systems development that has been running alongside traditional screening techniques at UKHSA for several years. UKHSA is now using several advanced platforms ranging from “off the shelf” solutions to “3D printed designer" systems with academic partners.

Microphysiological Systems

As can be seen in the image, the complexity of the ciliated epithelium (which looks like layers of cells with hairlike projections) can now be simulated using our microsphysiological systems to model the human respiratory tract more accurately. In collaboration with academic partners, UKHSA is now infecting microphysiological organ systems simulating the lung, gut and other organs with specific microorganisms.

UKHSA's studies are currently focused on protecting the public from SARS-CoV-2, but we will be further developing these microphysiological systems to help develop vaccines, drug and therapeutics against a broad range of other dangerous infectious diseases including MERS and Influenza virus. In the long term, we anticipate that this research will accelerate the rate of development of novel medicines.

Animal Research Governance and Oversight

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Microphysiological Systems

microphysiological systems lab
Shows part of the commercial Emulate Organ-on-Chip platform in situ in a standard laboratory incubator and a UKHSA Scientist working with human alveolus chips that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in our bespoke high-containment isolator system.

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