Biotech collaboration emerging as USF-Draper team starts new fight against malaria
Wake up and good morning. What you see above is a microfluidic device used to create human mimetic tissue models for testing potential malaria drugs. That's a too technical way of saying this device will help researchers mimic the human liver outside the body to make it easier to find a drug that fights malaria parasites when they interfere with the function of human livers.
The task is a new joint project of the University of South Florida and Draper Lab's bioengineering unit which resides in space on the USF campus in Tampa. The whole project is being fueled by $5.45 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Don't you love it when a plan comes together? This collaboration is exactly why Tampa Bay (aided by SRI's recent arrival here) attracted Draper, based in Cambridge, Mass., to expand here with this facility at USF Tampa and its new clean room manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg.
"The Draper models offer unique micro-environments, so cells grow and function more normally," says Dennis Kyle (center in photo at right), Ph.D., professor of global health at the USF College of Public Health. "That’s important because one major roadblock to learning about the liver stage of the malaria parasite has been that the liver cells lose some of their basic functions and no longer metabolize drugs after a few days."
Read more about the project here.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist