Epithelial Barrier Homeostasis and Response to Infections

Presented by

Dr. Francesco Boccellato

About this talk

The forefront of the gastrointestinal mucosa consists mainly of a continuous polarized epithelial monolayer protected by mucus. This strong defense barrier can be colonized by pathogens arousing a chronic inflammatory state. This exceptional colonization ability is associated with an increased risk of developing adenocarcinomas at the sites of infection. We have regenerated functional epithelial monolayers in vitro. These mucosoid cultures are human multi-lineage stem cell-based in vitro-equivalent of a real mucosa. They mimic the function of a homeostatic epithelial barrier including accumulation of mucus on the apical side. Use of human mucosoid cultures reveals novel insight into epithelial homeostasis and response to bacterial infection. About the presenter: Dr. Francesco Boccellato studied at Sapienza University of Rome. Ever since he was a student, he's been interested in the impact of pathogens in causing cancer in humans. During his Ph.D. in Rome, he studied the role of the Epstein - Barr virus (EBV) in deregulating microRNAs in diffuse large B cell lymphomas. After his Ph.D., Francesco moved to Berlin to the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, were he became interested in the causality of bacterial infection in human cancers. To study the impact of infection on healthy epithelial barriers Francesco invented a new cultivation systems for healthy epithelial cells called the mucosoids. The mucosoids are monolayers of polarised epithelial cells that recapitulate all the functions of an epithelial barrier in the body, including mucus production. Francesco recently started his independent group in the University of Oxford (UK) at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

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