A Bioengineered Model of Human Intestinal Cryptosporidiosis
Honorine Ward of Tufts Medical Center in the U.S. will develop a three-dimensional model of the human intestine for rapid screening of drugs targeting the parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes potentially lethal diarrhea in young children in developing countries. Developing drugs against Cryptosporidium has been particularly difficult, partly because of the limited understanding of the parasites behavior in the human intestine, and particularly of the effect of malnutrition, which commonly co-occurs with infection and likely contributes to disease severity. They will build a three-dimensional model of the human intestine using a scaffold of silk proteins and a hollow lumen structure lined with cells derived from human intestinal stem cells supported by underlying human myelofibroblasts. They will infect their cell model with fluorescently labelled Cryptosporidium to evaluate how the parasite affects the intestine, and to determine its capacity for high-throughput drug screens.