ACEA Biosciences, Inc. (ACEA) has awarded Christian Owusu, a Ph.D. candidate at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, the 2015 iCELLigence Research Grant for his proposal entitled “Host-parasite interactions during schistosomiasis infection: a study from the host and the parasite perspective”.
Schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever, is a disease caused by parasitic worms of the Schistosoma genus. Causing more than 200,000 deaths each year, schistosomiasis is the second most important parasitic infection of humans (after malaria). Despite this, drugs to treat parasitic worm infection are limited. This has been due, in part, to a lack of efficient and objective means of quantifying schistosome health and behavior. Historically, one of the primary assays employed has been the manual visual evaluation of worm motility, which is a surrogate of viability. However, a major improvement in throughput and objectivity has recently been achieved by adoption of xCELLigence real-time cell analysis (RTCA) technology.
Because schistosomiasis is associated with progressive liver fibrosis, one of the goals of Owusu’s research is to understand how schistosomes and the liver interact with one another in the course of disease progression. As the primary inflammatory effector cells of the liver, Kupffer cells are implicated in liver fibrosis. Owusu has proposed to use the iCELLigence system to evaluate the effect that schistosomes and Kupffer cells have on one another when cocultured together. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to address fundamental questions in the pathology of schistosomiasis using real-time cell analysis,” he said upon receipt of the award. “The RTCA iCELLigence system will enable me to simultaneously assess the impact of schistosomiasis infection on host immune cells, as well as investigate the impact of immune cell metabolites and cytokines on parasite viability.”
“We are very pleased to support this young researcher who is working on such an important yet underserved human disease,” noted Dr. Yama Abassi, vice president of ACEA. “Through our grant programs ACEA will continue to work closely with scientists around the world to bring innovative solutions to problems in basic and applied life science research, particularly within the area of neglected diseases.”
About RTCA Worm Motility Assays
ACEA’s xCELLigence RTCA instruments (including iCELLigence, DP, SP, MP, HT, Cardio, and CardioECR) use gold microelectrodes fused to the bottom of multiwell plates to monitor, in a real-time and label-free manner, changes in cell number, cell size/morphology, and cell-substrate attachment quality. While this technology is most often used to study human cells, in 2010 it was validated for the analysis of parasitic worms. As the worms (including adults and multiple other developmental stages) move in the well bottom the electrode surface area being contacted by the animal changes – causing fluctuations in the ease with which a miniscule electric current flows between electrodes. This “impedance” signal provides an exquisitely sensitive and reproducible readout of schistosome motility/viability. In addition to dramatically reducing the hands-on time required for analysis, this impedance-based technique introduces much needed objectivity and reproducibility to the assay.
About ACEA’s iCELLigence Research Grant
ACEA’s iCELLigence Research Grant is aimed at assisting early career scientists to achieve their research goals by providing them free access to RTCA technology. This international research grant provides the winning scientist an iCELLigence system, consumables, and consultation for up to 6 months. The application deadline for the next grant cycle is December 15, 2015. For more information about the grant, please visit http://www.aceabio.com/grant or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About ACEA Biosciences
Founded in San Diego, California in 2002, ACEA Biosciences, Inc. (ACEA) is a privately held biotechnology company pioneering the development and commercialization of high performance, cutting edge cell analysis platforms for life science research and clinical diagnostics. ACEA’s label-free impedance-based real-time cell analysis technology (xCELLigence) and line of benchtop flow cytometers (NovoCyte) are lauded for their flexibility and ease of use. Over 1,000 of these instruments have been placed worldwide, leading to >700 publications in fields such as pre-clinical drug discovery and development, toxicity, safety pharmacology, and basic academic research.
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