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Tuesday, 30 August 2011 21:17

Helmholtz Cooperation: Alveolar Cell Model with Constant Cell Features

Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre of Infection Research (HZI) and the Helmholtz Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (HIPS), Saarland, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Claus-Michael Lehr want to convert lung cells from mice into a stable model to investigate the penetration of pathogens (viruses or bacteria) and to test new drugs.

The project, named “Conditional Immortalisation of Alveolar Epithelial Cells (CILIA)”, will be supported by the Centre for Alternative Methods to Animal Experiments (ZEBET) within the Federal Insitute of Risk Assessment (BfR), Berlin, for three years from 1th September.

Until now, re-immortalisation of lung cells using cell infection with genetically modified viruses led to the loss of the barrier-typical properties. Therefore, experiments on living animals have been considered as indispensable so far. Scientists were successful in solving this problem: the working group of Dr. Dagmar Wirth from HZI in Braunschweig has developed a method which allows cells which have gone through the immortalisation process to keep their characteristic abilities. With another cell type they succeeded in generating controlled cell growth without changing the cell barrier properties. Additionally, by a genetic modification, the cell division programme can be switched on or off. Now, the scientists want to apply these new methods to lung epithelial cells to allow then to grow in a normal, dense, impermeable layer.

The cell culture model is intended to serve in basic research in investigations as to how influenza viruses break the lung barrier. In applied research it is intended that be used for testing how drugs break the tissue barrier of the lung. In this way animal experiments can be reduced and - in the best case – can be replaced.

Source:  http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/de/