Innovative intestinal immune model system for testing therapeutic options
Immune and inflammatory pathways play a central role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory bowel (IBD) and liver diseases. So far, however, there are no persuasive approaches available that would allow the complex processes to be mapped in vitro. In the ImmunAvatar project, a consortium of researchers from Fraunhofer ITEM, Jena University Hospital, Charité Berlin and the University of Tübingen has taken on the challenge of developing improved immune models. The focus is on the development of a microfluidic multi-organ platform allowing interactions between the liver, fatty tissue and the intestine to be mimicked in vitro. The system will serve as an individualizable platform for personalized testing of different therapeutic options in the treatment of IBD and liver diseases.
The focus of the Fraunhofer ITEM researchers in the ImmunAvatar project is on mimicking IBD. For this purpose, among other materials, they use human intestinal tissue from bowel resections to prepare precision-cut intestinal slices, PCIS for short. These ultrathin tissue slices represent a complex, multicellular intestinal structure and are cultured ex vivo. The researchers have already successfully demonstrated that PCIS contain tissue-resident immune cells and respond to mitogens. The use of both healthy tissue and tissue from IBD patients enables the identification of disease-specific differences, which can also be modulated in the model. Thus, PCIS are a promising model to reduce animal testing and have potential for future use in studying pharmacological modes of action as well as immunoregulatory intestinal networks.