Winner: Andrea Chiara Masi, Ph.D., Post Doc Fellow, Newcastle University, UK

Co-Culture Champion

Microbiomes of Preterm Babies: Unlocking Critical Health Insights

Dr. Masi’s research centers on understanding the growth of tiny organisms in preterm babies’ stomachs and their response to components in breast milk. By employing the Cerillo’s Co-Culture System, her study offers valuable insights into the health and well-being of preterm babies, potentially improving their care and nutrition.

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How she will use Cerillo's Co-Culture Research Platform

My project focuses on understanding the dynamics of preterm gut microbiome establishment, and investigating the microbiome-shaping effect of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). We are currently trying to understand the community-level behaviour of bifidobacteria when HMOs are present in the media. Such studies would be beneficial to understand the how breast milk feeding impacts preterm babies who are very fragile and at risk of many different diseases.

We are presently assessing the growth of bifidobacteria species in co-culture through the utilization of species-specific qPCR. This approach entails several sequential steps, encompassing DNA extraction and qPCR assay. Furthermore, due to the cost constraints associated with HMOs, we are only able to analyze a limited number of time-points.

With the co-culture plates we could monitor the growth of our bacteria in for the whole culture time which is usually between 24 and 48h. Being able to sample the co-culture through the experiment would also allow us to monitor the HMO usage through time and evaluate the metabolites produced such as SCFAs. We would hope to gain information on how the bacteria studied interact to better understand how the preterm microbiome establishes.