Respiratory infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally, with few preventative or therapeutic options. To faithfully model the lungs’ response to infections, we are differentiating stem cells to airway epithelial cells, exposed on the surface to air. This model reconstitutes major airway cell types including basal cells, ciliated cells, club cells and mucous producing goblet cells, to study respiratory infections.
The aim of our research is to reveal fundamental dynamics of common viral infections and the host response to them. The interaction between host and virus is what drives symptoms and disease. Understanding these processes in molecular detail will reveal new therapeutic targets and alleviate the burden of respiratory infections.
reNEW Melbourne’s Immune Development Group, Dr Rhiannon Werder and team, including Dr Declan Turner, have been applying stem cell models of the airway to characterise infections with pervasive viruses like rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus. We are now developing a high-throughput workflow to identify cellular responses to infection.
This image shows a stem cell derived airway epithelium grown at air-liquid interface. Cilia of the ciliated epithelial cells (red), secretory granules of club cells (green), cellular tight junctions (cyan) and nuclei (blue) are stained.
Dr Declan Turner, Immune Development Lab, MCRI.