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Establishing high-throughput methods to study ‘mini-guts’

CORBEL user Jenny Ostrop from the Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research at NTNU in Trondheim successfully applied for access to the high-throughput screening facilities at EU-OPENSCREEN´s partner site Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Berlin, Germany. During her visit, Jenny was able to automate several working steps in her experimental pipeline, thereby accelerating the workflow.

The human gastrointestinal tract is a highly sophisticated organ. The gut epithelium consists of several specialized cell types in a distinct spatial arrangement that enable efficient nutrient uptake and forms a barrier against commensal bacteria and pathogens. CORBEL user Jenny Ostrop from the Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research at NTNU in Trondheim, is using organoids - ‘mini-guts’ that form characteristic crypts and villi - to study the intestinal epithelium. Her scientific interest lies in the differentiation of stem cells into the diverse epithelial cell lineages. ‘We are trying to find the molecular ‘switches’ that determine which cell types develop from the stem cells and how the epithelium is composed’, explains Jenny. The organoids are grown in a collagen matrix and their handling is challenging and time-consuming.

Having heard about the CORBEL Open Call for research projects from colleagues, Jenny applied for access to the high-throughput screening facilities at EU-OPENSCREEN.During her visit, Jenny was able to automate several working steps in her experimental pipeline, thereby accelerating the workflow. This allowed her to screen a library of compounds that might influence organoid development for their effect on cell differentiation and organoid composition. We would like to thank the FMP screening unit team for their support of this successful user project.

As the next step, based on the screening results, Jenny is planning to visit Euro-BioImaging to quantify the three-dimensional morphology of the organoids following certain treatments, using advanced microscopy techniques and automated image analysis.

‘I would definitely recommend other researchers to apply for access to the European research infrastructures. Their offer means a great chance to use instruments that you would normally not have access to and to benefit from their expertise.’ - Jenny Ostrop