Asthma affects one in ten Filipinos, and 98% of those who have asthma lack proper treatment. Poverty, and the current condition of the healthcare system are major factors. Inhalers are prohibitively expensive and health centres are often inaccessible.
This project represents pioneering work into asthma biology and longterm management by pharmaceutical intervention schemes. The original goal of this Newton funded PhD project was to engineer human trachea tissue in the laboratory, with a view to using this as transplantable tissue to repair tracheal damage caused by trauma and disease.
As the project progressed the team discovered that the stiffened gel scaffold of the airway-smooth muscle model created the marked changes resembling those seen in asthma, where stiffening of the bronchus is a marker of the condition.
Based on these developments the focus of the project shifted towards engineering bronchiolar tissue and developing this as a highly adaptable 3D model to study airway pathologies and the role of mechanical forces in disease development, allowing much more accurate models on the progression of diseases like asthma.
Long term it is hoped that the impact of this work will be a clinically relevant human tissue model of airway physiology, and a platform for testing new drugs to treat asthma.
"My team of co-investigators/collaborators bring extensive international experience in basic science and experimental medicine, including airway biology. Together with the research environment, facilities, and government support, this will enable challenges to be met and resolved."
Jopeth Ramis, Technological Institute of the Philippines
Tissue engineering of bronchi in health and sickness: assessing the effect of matrix stiffening on cellular changes in the airways.
Professor Felicity Rose, University of Nottingham, UK Professor Ian Adcock, Imperial College London, UK and Mr Jopeth Ramis, Technological Institute of the Philippines
Delivery partners: British Council, UK and the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute, Philippines