Startup firm in Milton Keynes develops the world's first 3D model of a human lung

The innovation could help end animal testing for lung research
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A startup firm in Milton Keynes has developed the world's first 3D model of a human lung.

Biotech company ImmuOne, based in Midsummer Boulevard, created the model to analyse the impact of inhaled medicines - as well as commercial products like fragrances and sprays.

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The group already has a laboratory in Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, and has set its sights on expanding to the US, The BBC reports.

Dr Abigail Martin on left and Dr Victoria Hutton on the right. Photo: University of Hertfordshire press releaseDr Abigail Martin on left and Dr Victoria Hutton on the right. Photo: University of Hertfordshire press release
Dr Abigail Martin on left and Dr Victoria Hutton on the right. Photo: University of Hertfordshire press release

Dr Victoria Hutter said: "Developing our 3D lung has been an exciting and challenging initiative.

"From realising that we needed to create the model to the eureka moment when we realised that our product is working and bringing positive change to research, has been incredible.

"There’s more to do and we are thrilled that we are on this journey with our clients."

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Dr Hutter has positions with the company and she is also professor of vitro toxicology at the University of Hertfordshire. She said the 'Eureka' project was possible thanks to the university – which helped secure £2million in investment.

The plan to develop a 3D lung started from humble beginnings less than five years ago as the brainchild of Dr Abigail Martin, who wanted to create an alterative method for respiratory research that didn’t require animal testing.

She created the first prototype as part of her PhD under the supervision of Professor Hutter, while studying at the University of Herts, before the two set up the company.

Dr Martin said: “Having worked on drug development projects that involve animal testing, I’ve seen the difference that new drugs can make to patients’ lives.

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“However, I felt there had to be a better way and set out to look for an alternative.”

She grew human lower lung tissue and immune cells in a laboratory, that were then moulded into a 3D alveolar ‘lung’ model. Not only did it better represent human physiology than animals, but it could also allow companies to accurately test small airways and inflammation in the lung.

ImmuONE states its creation is the only 3D lung model in the world. The firm is actively looking for extra investment and to source business in the USA.

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