Lung on a Leaf

knox and zen

Dr. Kenneth Knox, pulmonary medicine specialist, and Dr. Frederic Zenhausern, Director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine, combined knowledge in plant biology, engineering and medicine to create a revolutionary new model to study pulmonary disease called a “lung on a leaf.” Previously, the lab developed an “organ on a chip” that mimics the human gut and can analyze the complex interactions between human cells and the microbial ecosystems of the gut, predicting their effects on health or disease. The idea for “lung on a leaf” stemmed from the use of spinach leaves as a new cancer research model. After noticing the similarities between the branching structures of the leaf scaffold and that of the lung, it became clear that the model would be feasible for in vivo pulmonary studies. This could mean an innovation in testing cell types in order to learn more about lung immunity and lung fibrosis within infections or diseases such as valley fever or sarcoidosis.

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