The project finished on December 31st, 2016.

At CNR, Mariusz successfully assembled, characterised and examined his final in vitro model of the human inflamed small intestinal mucosa. The model reproduced the main characteristics of innate immune responses during gut inflammation.

In the last part of the PhD project, Mariusz has attended two scientific meetings: ‘Metchnikoff's legacy: tissue phagocytes and functions’ organized by Ceppellini School, and ‘International Retreat of PhD Students in Immunology’ coordinated by Società italiana di Immunologia, Immunologia Clinica e Allergologia in Naples. During these meetings he had opportunity to present and discuss his final work and engaged with important immunologists.

At CNR, Gergo has established the Air-Liquid Interface co-cultures (ALI cultures) based on primary human bronchial epithelial cells and monocytes. The results show that the inflammatory reactivity in the co-culture model is mainly due to the presence of monocytes and the possible crosstalk between the various cell types. The established co-culture lung model reproduced the key characteristics of innate immune responses in an inflammatory environment. In September 2016, he gave an oral presentation about his final in vitro co-culture lung model at the ‘International Retreat of PhD Students in Immunology’ organised by the Società italiana di Immunologia, Immunologia Clinica e Allergologia in Naples.

At ACS, Elfi has developed and evaluated a novel in vitro monolayer model for colon epithelium incorporating differentiated epithelial cells that derived from stem cell cultures. This culture provides an attractive testing platform to assay epithelial responses to various stimuli, and ACS plans to take this product to market as part of its growing portfolio of cell-based assay systems. Moreover, it has the potential to build a preclinical model system focused on innate immunity, if paired with immunological culture modules that Elfi has set up during the first part of the project. Elfi represented ACS during the BIO-Europe Spring 2016 Partnering conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where she presented research results and discussed business opportunities with potential customers and business partners during one-to-one meetings.


HUMUNITY (Cell-Based Models of Human Mucosal Immunity with Multiple Commercial Applications) is a PhD school which shall train young scientists in advanced human cell culture and analysis, and teach the processes for their translation into industrially-exploitable and medically-useful tools. The scientific goal is to develop advanced cell-biological models in which cultured human primary cells mimic the architecture and the interactions of the original tissue. Specifically, students will develop novel systems in which the innate inflammatory response to agents presented at mucosal surfaces (lung, gut) can be studied in both healthy and pathological conditions. These culture systems will deliver preclinical models with multiple applications, from testing of candidate therapeutics or health-promoting agents to screening for health risk from environmental or dietary contaminants. Collectively, these models shall robustly reproduce the reactivity of human tissues in vivo, thereby reducing significantly the need of animal experimentation.

HUMUNITY aims at delivering industry-oriented PhD training in the field of advanced in vitro models. The four selected Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) will experience an intersectoral training programme encompassing a 18-month internship in a UK SME (AvantiCell Science Ltd., ACS), expert in isolation and culture of human primary cells, and 18 months in the Laboratory of Cytokines and Innate Immunity of the Italian National Research Council (CNR). Secondments to the associated partners University of Pisa (UNIPI, Italy) and Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg (PLUS, Austria) are planned during the fellowships. Students will be enrolled in the PhD programme of PLUS, will engage in training-by-research, and will participate in a series of scientific and technical training courses provided by each institution. Fellows will also participate jointly in scientific meetings and complementary skills courses organised by the associated management partner ALTA. The trainees will also gain experience in transferring their technology to relevant industry sectors from pharmaceutical through food and healthcare to environmental safety.