Summer Student 2017: Oana Voloaca

Summer Student 2017: Oana Voloaca

By 01/10/2017 No Comments

Summer Student 2017: Oana Voloaca

Oana Voloaca, supervised by Dr Melissa Lacey at Sheffield Hallam University, used a novel gut tissue model to investigate the influence of bacteria in gastrointestinal diseases (such as crohn’s disease), to replace experiments on rats.

The lining of the human digestive tract is exposed to over 500-1000 different “good bacteria”. These bacteria help with the absorption of nutrients, prevent infections, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and even influence mood. Evidence also shows these bacteria are important in the growth and function of the digestive tract. Sadly, small animals such as rats and mice are often experimented on to investigate how the digestive system works and the role of the good bacteria.

In her summer project, Oana created a cell culture model that brought together the different cells of the digestive tract with good bacteria, to study how the two components of the digestive system interact. Her novel model could also be used for further research into digestive tract infections and disease such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and cancers – all without experimenting on animals.

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