Sumary of Pathogens get comfy in designer goo:
- Rice University bioengineers and Baylor College of Medicine scientists looking for a better way to mimic intestinal infections that cause diarrhea and other diseases have built and tested a set of hydrogel-based platforms to see if they could make both transplanted cells and bacteria comfy.
- As a mechanical model of intestinal environments, the lab’s soft, medium and hard polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrogels were far more welcoming to the cells that normally line the gut than the glass and plastic usually used by laboratories.
- The researchers found strong correlation between the stiffness of hydrogels, which mimic intestinal mucus, and how well a diarrhea-causing strain of E.
- They reported that softer hydrogels promoted “significantly greater bacterial adhesion,” which they attribute to mucus and other extracellular matrix components expressed by the cells.
- The study led by bioengineer Jane Grande-Allen of Rice’s Brown School of Engineering and Anthony Maresso at Baylor, which appears in Acta Biomaterialia, proved the gels’ value in experiments involving the soft interface between organs and microbial or bacterial pathogens.
- The Estes lab at Baylor built its model cultures using enteroids, constructs of intestinal cell cultures that scientists use to understand how epithelial cells respond to infectious invaders.
- Enteroids can incorporate a variety of cells found in the gut, but before Rice’s hydrogels, they were grown on platforms that did not easily mimic the squishy tissues in host bodies.
- “Our collaborators obtain human intestinal tissues from biopsies and bariatric surgeries to make enteroids, but the enteroids derived from jejunal cells had been difficult to infect with this pathogenic E.