Fighting Human Parechovirus with hiPSC-IO

Infection with Human Parechovirus (PeV-A) is predominant among newborns and young children, causing gastroenteritis and respiratory illness. Currently, there are no antiviral therapies available against these viruses, and development of treatments against these viruses are hindered due the use of immortalized cells and animals. Thus, an in vitro (made in the lab) model that better reflects human physiology and pathophysiology is needed to fight against these infections.

Organoids, also known as mini-organs, are generated in the lab from stem cells like induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC). At Charles River, our ESR Fatma Masmoudi used iPSC to derive human intestinal organoids (hiPSC-IO) to study Human Parechovirus (PeV-A). In her research, Fatma use hiPSC-IO because they closely resemble the human intestine, which single cell type monolayer and animals don’t.

On 27th and 31st August 2021, Fatma presented her poster titled “Development of an Intestinal Organoid-based Platform for Screening Antiviral Agents” at the 11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences (WC11). The overarching theme for this year was “3Rs in transition: from development to application”, and is inspired by the progress that has been made in a scientific technologies, including stem-cells, organ-on-chip, genomics, and micro-engineering.

Before the WC11, we had the chance to ask her about how she’s feeling regarding her presentation, and Fatma enthusiastically responded: “I’m excited to share my poster with the wider community and curious for the questions I would get to open my eyes for new ways to improving my studies.”

During her presentation, Fatma described the usage of human intestinal organoids to study viruses, how hiPSC-IO can be used to investigate PeV-A infection and host immune response, and how hiPSC-IO can provide a valuable resource for drug screening to develop therapies for PeV-A infections. Following the presentation, visitors of the WC11 were allowed to ask questions about Fatma’s research work.

This was certainly a very proud moment for the OrganoVIR team, and we are incredibly proud of Fatma for presenting her work at the WC11. We hope to see Fatma in more conferences (hopefully in person, soon) in the future!