Gut-on-a-Chip Technology Provides Breakthrough in Microbiome Reseach

Gut-on-a-Chip Technology Provides Breakthrough in Microbiome Reseach
The gut microbiome — the bacterial flora of our intestines — is notoriously difficult to study in a laboratory setting. Because of this, realistic models to study the interaction between the microbiome and intestinal epithelial cells have for long been considered out of reach. For the first time, scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have now succeeded in co-culturing a human gut microbiome with intestinal cells using gut-on-a-chip technology. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is mainly characterized by abnormal immune responses. Researchers, however, know that other intestinal factors can contribute to disease development and aggravation of symptoms. Peristaltic movement, intestinal epithelial cells and the gut microbiome all contribute to pathology in IBD, but until now, studying the contribution of individual components to this process has not been possible. The new gut microenvironment model allows scientists to examine how normal and disease promoting gut bacteria contribute to the immune responses. The study, entitled "Contributions of microbiome and mechanical deformation to intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammation in a human gut-on-a-chip" was co-led by Wyss Institute Founding Director Dr. Donald Ingber, and Wyss Core Faculty member Dr. James Collins. It was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on December 14, 2015. The gut on a chip is one of three organs-on-chips developed by the Institute to date. The gut model, developed by Wyss in 2012, is a miniature version of a living gut. Made of a transparent flexible polymer, the memory stick-sized device contains a hollow channel with the ability to closely imitate the conditions of a human gut. The lumen of the device
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