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[2020/12/24] NYMU Technological Breakthrough: Lung Tissue Cultured from Blood

Press conference on “3D Lung Tissue Technological Breakthrough”. (Left) Vice President Lin of the School of Medicine, Dr. Wu of Academia Sinica, President Guo, Professor Herr, Professor Hwang, Professor Chiou, and Professor Chang

 

Only 10 ml of blood are enough to grow lung tissue! National Yang-Ming University has successfully grown 3D lung tissue using iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) from a patient’s blood. This lung tissue is being transplanted into zebra fish and will tell us more about the pathological mechanisms behind cystic fibrosis.

 

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease caused by the CFTR gene mutation. Patients who are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis accumulate thick mucus in their body and this obstructs the functioning of numerous organs. These include sweat glands, the pancreas and the gallbladder. However, the most common effect is obstruction of the airways, which can lead to respiratory failure. The pathological mechanisms behind cystic fibrosis are unclear and there is no effective treatment at present.

 

     

  The research team uses zebrafish bred by Professor Her as an animal model (left).

Zebrafish offspring under the microscope (right).

 

Professors Chiou and Hwang of the National Yang-Ming University Department and Institute of Pharmacology, Professor Her of the National Yang-Ming University Institute of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Professor Chang of National Chiao Tung University Department of Biological Science and Technology have cooperated in order to investigate the pathological mechanisms behind cystic fibrosis. Professor Hwang has dedicated his research to the physiology of the disease and the development of drugs targeting cystic fibrosis. His laboratory has identified many of the pathophysiological mechanisms related to the disease's mutations and developed a number of drug models. In this program, Hwang has utilized electrophysiological and microbiological technologies to understand the unique pathological mechanisms behind this disease.

 

Professor Chiou took between 5 ml to 10 ml of blood from patients and has then successfully cultured their lung tissue using the Nobel-Prize-winning iPS technology. The grown tissue comes from a specific patient’s blood and therefore is able to provide patient specific information on the pathological mechanism pathway behind a specific CFTR gene mutation. The research team then has taken the route of transplanting the tissue with the mutated gene into zebrafish that were bred by Professor Her. Using Professor Chang’s nanotechnology, they have then been able to introduce new genes back into the zebrafish containing the 3D lung tissue using the CRIPR/Cas9 genetic editing method. Specifically, they are trying to repair the mutated gene in the lung tissue and at the same time observe the pathology behind each mutation via a model that simulates organ development and the physiological conditions within a living body.

 

     

  The research team is trying to transplant 3D tissue onto a zebrafish (right).

 

The iPS technique is capable of differentiating these cells into a range of different cell types and, because of this, the research team is developing a number of new options in clinical research. Professor Chiou, who is in charge of the research, remarked that the biggest challenge is to find the patients from whom tissues samples are obtained; this is because cystic fibrosis is a rare disease. The iPS technique and the genetic editing treatment platform are capable of being utilizing for drug development that targets a number of different hereditary diseases. In addition to cystic fibrosis, the research team has begun to apply them to various blood-related hereditary diseases and retinal diseases.

 

Both in vitro and in vivo models are required for clinical research. The research team has been able to reconstruct various human tissues, including lung tissue in vitro, and the next step would be in vivo research in zebrafish. Since whole genome sequence of zebrafish is available, the zebrafish model is very suitable for these pilot experiments.

 

The research team hopes that their innovative and highly precise genetic treatment platform will be able to become a safe and highly efficient treatment model. This can then become an option when carrying out clinical treatment of patients and accelerate the development of targeted genetic therapy that will bring new opportunities to patients with genetic diseases.

 

Group photo of the research team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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