Braveheart (AIM: BRH), the fund management and strategic investment group, is pleased to provide an operational update on its strategic investment Kirkstall Limited.
Kirkstall Limited (“Kirkstall”) (holding 80%)
Further to the announcement on 23 April 2020, which reported that Kirkstall is now collaborating with Animal Free Research UK, the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity, awarding grants to research scientists to implement new and existing techniques to replace the use of animal in trials and research.
Animal Free Research UK’s assessment panel has awarded the first three projects that will use Kirkstall’s Quasi Vivo® system in research related to COVID-19:
1. Dr Carolina Herrera, Imperial College London
Project Title: Modelling early immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a fluidic system
Dr Herrera’s Project Description: “To develop a model that mimics infection of SARS-CoV-2 taking into consideration the natural flow of lymph and blood in the body. With this model, we want to assess the cellular responses to the entry of SARS-CoV-2 in cells from the respiratory tract and the effect of such responses on circulating blood cells from the immune system. We will be able to isolate the responses triggered by viral entry using a virus that cannot replicate in the infected cell. We will also test drug candidates for their potential to inhibit the first steps of infection and therefore the first stage of the inflammation process.
“The Kirkstall system allows us to measure the number of infected cells and their responses to the infection; and at the same time to observe the consequences of the infection on blood cells that are circulating, mimicking what happens in the human body.”
2. Dr Mark Turner, Centre for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences, Coventry University
Project Title: A human-relevant system to investigate obesity, diabetes and COVID-19.
Dr Turner’s Project Description: “Obesity and type 2 diabetes impacts the function of several organs in the body which can result in the development of other diseases but also increase the susceptibility of viral infections. It has been shown that obesity is a risk factor for developing severe symptoms from SARS-COVID-19 and therefore understanding why this is the case is highly important for scientists and doctors.
Several animal models have been used to investigate obesity, however making comparisons is difficult due to the differences between animals and human metabolism. Therefore, developing a system which replaces animal use and accurately replicates human obesity can address this issue. This project aims to establish a multi tissues model in the Quasi Vivo system which replicates human obesity which can be used to understand how different tissues behave and communicate with each other as well as the influence of diseases like SARS-COVID-19 in obesity.”
3. Dr Baishakhi Ghosh, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Project Title: Susceptibility of COPD and cigarette smoke airway epithelia to SARS-CoV-2.
Dr Ghosh’s Project Description: ” The lungs are the organs most affected by COVID-19 as the SARS-CoV-2 virus results in asymptomatic or mild symptoms hospitalizations and mortality due to respiratory failure. Given the enormous impact of the virus on health and well-being, it is important to get insight into its pathogenic interaction with humans. We are exploring the epithelial changes that lead to increased susceptibility to disease, and also, quantifying changes that occur after viral exposure to determine the likelihood of chronic respiratory disease even after recovery from acute infection. Our understanding of the role of environmental exposures such as cigarette-smoke or vaping electronic cigarettes in modifying the response to SARS-CoV-2 is emerging and smoking has been associated with worsened outcomes in SARS-CoV-2 patients. The study will improve our understanding of how cigarette smoke increases our susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection in the lungs and help in developing a therapy for prevention and treatment.”
Carla Owen, CEO of Animal Free Research UK, said: “We are delighted to partner with Kirkstall Ltd to provide cutting-edge human-relevant technology to scientists at three leading research institutes – Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Coventry University – in efforts to understand COVID-19 as it affects humans. Deployment of the Quasi Vivo® system will contribute to the development of novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
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