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Summer Student 2017: Joanitta Akpai

Joanitta Akpai, supervised by Dr David Chau at the University of Hertfordshire, developed novel biomaterials from pasta to create 3D cell culture models to help replace the use of rodents in vascular disease and cancer research.

Cell culture allows cells to grow from a specific tissue or organ, traditionally this has meant growth as a single layer of cells, which does not reflect the natural environment of the organ.

Pasta la vista: a potential biomaterial for regenerative medicine!

In her novel project, Joanitta investigated the optimal shape and size of pasta on which to grow human cells. Pasta is a wheat protein and can help replicate the cells’ natural environment by providing a 3D structural support for cells to grow and to facilitate the flow of oxygen and nutrients thanks to its tubular construction.

There is an urgent need to develop more accurate, reproducible and animal free material constructs that could be used for therapeutic needs and the toxicity assessment of novel compounds. Joanitta’s project could provide a low cost cell culture model that is representative of functional human organs, such as arteries, lungs and kidneys, to replace toxicity testing of new human medicines on animals. Her method could also save over 25,000 rats and mice from suffering every year.

Page last modified on February 14, 2019 3:14 pm