Delivered by Dr Ruth Mackay (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Brunel University London).
Date: 15 December 2021
In the past 18 months point of care (POC) diagnostics have become an everyday item used by millions in the UK and around the world. Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT) is becoming increasingly popular within POC diagnostics due to the rapid, sensitive and specific results obtained. An integrated micro-engineered platform is under development for automated DNA extraction, isothermal amplification using micro volume samples. This has been used with respect to samples for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), poultry pathogens and most recently SARS-CoV-2. Sample preparation from varying matrices has been a bottleneck in the diagnostic procedure that has been overcome using alternative methods to the standard commercial extraction methods.
An extension of the STI work has been the development of a Vagina-on-a-Chip; a tool developed to give greater under understanding into bacterial vaginosis and it’s role in STI transmission. BV is characterised by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria, originally attributed to Gardnerella Vaginalis (GV), disrupting the typically dominant lactobacilli vaginal ecosystem, resulting in discomfort and vaginal discharge with fishy odour. Women with BV have higher risk of transmission of STI and poor perinatal outcome. In vitro models have been developed, including two-dimensional, organoid and animal models; however, researchers are calling for a more representative model to investigate BV. Over the past decade a new technology to replicate three-dimensional tissues has been established by microfluidic researchers, organ-on-a-chip (OOC). These in vitro models use microfluidic chips embedded with a scaffold and cells from specific organs. Using organ-specific forces and fluidic shear flow these micro-tissues can represent the physiological environment of the organ under investigation. Numerous OOC models have been developed (lung, gut, heart and brain). BV is a common condition that requires greater understanding and new treatments. OOC gives researchers in the field a way forward to create a model that represents the vagina in a way not seen before.
Please contact Maria Dimitriadi for further details.