What lies beneath: developing a synthetic basement membrane to improve in vitro epithelial models

Dr Driton Vllasaliu (primary)
Institute of Pharmaceutical Science
King’s College London
Dr Helena Azevedo (secondary)
School of Engineering and Materials Science
Queen Mary University of London


In vitro epithelial models have drawbacks as they lack basement membranes (BMs), which control many cell responses. This project will unravel mechanisms by which BM controls epithelial cell responses and use this understanding to develop a synthetic BM. Initially, the BM-epithelial relationship is probed using established epithelial cells, commercially-available BMs/its components and state-of-the-art imaging. BM components controlling epithelial barrier are unraveled. Finally, self-assembling membranes as synthetic BM mimics are developed. These are based on self-assembling peptides with BM protein-derived ligands, informed by measuring cell response. Such systems could improve the quality of in vitro epithelial models, having 3Rs implications.


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Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Cell BiologyStructural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBiophysicsChemistryEngineeringImage ProcessingMathematics / StatisticsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular Biology