University Of Southampton Researchers Develop 3D System To Fight TuberculosisBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
A group of researchers have created a new 3D system to examine how humans get infected in a laboratory setting. The team includes infection researchers, engineers and bioinformaticians in the University of Southampton and University College London.
Phys.org reported that the researchers used an electrostatic encapsulation technique in order to make small 3D spheres. In these models, human cells are infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB) to create conditions that resemble its effect in patients.
The 3D spheres provide a way for the scientists to closely examine what happens in a human body when it develops TB. The study has a long-term aim of recognizing new antibiotic treatments and vaccines.
The study was published in the journals "mBio" and "eLife." It was funded by the Medical Research Council.
The group was led by Professor Paul Elkington. He said that this is an "exciting development" for tuberculosis research.
He further explained that the 3D sphere was created with a collagen matrix to replicate a human lung. This led to an environment that allows certain antibiotics to kill the infection, which is something that scientists could not do in other 2D model systems. The system is expected to help improve the process of finding treatments and vaccines for TB, which infects and kills about 1.8 million per year.
According to R&D Magazine, the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) kills more people each year compared to other infections. It is said to be characterized by "a spatially organized immune response and extracellular matrix remodeling."
The study suggested that antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to human health. This is because of the development of drug-resistant organisms. The new system combines virulent mycobacteria, primary human blood mononuclear cells as well as collagen-alginate matrix to separate the host-pathogen infection.
The research's next phase will be in partnership with the African Health Research Institute in Durban. The project is being funded by an MRC Global Challenges Research Fund Foundation Award that is reportedly worth £350,000 (about $437,600).