Thursday, 06 July 2023 09:10

Disease model on a chip: researchers develop Barret's esophageal reflux disease Featured

Scientists at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University in Boston have recreated a model of reflux disease (barrett's disease) in vitro. The goal is to gain a better understanding of the cellular and molecular triggers of this disease and to develop appropriate drug therapies.

Many people suffer from reflux of gastric acid and enzymes into the esophagus. They then have to "burp sourly". In Germany, there are said to be about 1.85 million adults.(1) The underlying reason for this is, among other things, an impairment of the sphincter muscle of the stomach, caused, for example, by a wrong diet. In the long run, the reflux causes severe damage to the mucous membrane of the esophagus. This can ultimately lead to esophageal cancer. Thesye kind of cancer is often only detected at an advanced stage, which means that the prospects of cure are unfavorable. In Germany, 5,679 people died of esophageal cancer in 2016.(2)

The model consists of a reconstruction of a Barrett's esophagus region from a patient's throat. The epithelium, which is similar to Barrett's esophagus, grows on a collagen gel mimicking the stroma with embedded fibroblasts on a microfluidic chip. It represents the interim phase prior to cancer development.

 Using the model, scientists hope to identify which reflux patients are at increased risk for developing cancer and identify drugs that can prevent the transition to tumor.


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