Many research groups around the world use thin slices of lung tissue to investigate asthma and other respiratory diseases. Lung slices are a useful tool that allows scientists to measure various functions of lung tissue including airway closure and biochemical signalling pathways, and to test the toxicity of new drugs and chemicals.
A major drawback to the way lung slices are currently used is that the lung tissue is in an artificial environment and not subjected to periodic stretching such as that seen when the lungs inhale and exhale during breathing. There is therefore a great need to improve experiments using lung slices by periodically stretching and relaxing the lung slices to mimic breathing and create a laboratory model that more closely resemble the living, breathing lung.
The overarching aim of this project is to make lung slices “breath” by developing a method of stretching lung slices. In collaboration with a team at Harvard Medical School in the USA I am adapting a commercially available stretching system, which is widely used by researchers to stretch cells, to enable it to stretch lung slices for the very first time. This will represent a great technological advance in lung slice experiments and has the potential to improve lung slice experiments by research groups all around the world.
Researcher Dr Amanda Tatler