Researchers from the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering "Giulio Natta" of the Politecnico di Milano and the Pediatric Research Center, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences "L. Sacco ", University of Milan have recently published an article in the scientific journal Theranostics, which will help the international scientific community to understand the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and to develop vaccines and therapeutic agents against COVID-19.
Starting from a careful analysis of the frontier technological tools by which infections are studied and new drugs and vaccines are tested, the researchers have come to affirm that the most suitable ones, and therefore those that could accelerate the discovery and preclinical development of antiviral drugs and vaccines for COVID-19, are undoubtedly the most innovative modeling tools such as 3D supports for cell cultures, microfluidic chambers for the culture of organoids and intravital microscopy in animals.
Specifically, the authors indicate some excellent research tools for this purpose, developed in the last ten years by the research group of Professor Manuela T. Raimondi of the Politecnico di Milano as part of the three ERC projects coordinated by her (NICHOID, NICHOIDS and MOAB): artificial niches for stem cell culture, microfluidic bioreactors for tissue culture, and miniaturised imaging windows for intravital microscopy.
Some of these devices are already used for research on neurodegenerative diseases in collaboration with the group of Dr. Stephana Carelli at the Pediatric Research Center of the University of Milan. In addition, the team of Prof. Raimondi at the Politecnico di Milano has developed a lymph node model engineered inside a miniaturised bioreactor called MOAB, which allows to study immunization mechanisms such as those produced by vaccines. These research tools are much more realistic than conventional ones and could even replace much of the pre-clinical research currently conducted on animals.