Exploring the diversity of endothelial cells and microglial responses to viral infection

In collaboration with Genevia Technologies, Professor Luis Filgueira from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, has gained unexpected and promising insights in two topics: the diversity of endothelial cells in different parts of the body, and reactions of microglial cells to different virus infections.

Most of the time Dr. Filgueira works with his postdoctoral researchers, supporting them in their research projects. His first project in collaboration with Genevia, however, was entirely his own. Dr. Filgueira describes how the collaboration started:

– The bioinformatics services at our university simply do not cover our needs. In Switzerland, such services are very expensive and there are only a few providers available. When a representative of Genevia Technologies was visiting our university to present this service, I just thought, “Well, let’s give it a try!”

– I first started to utilize the expertise of the Genevia team in my own project. We were happy with the collaboration, and since then we have had two other projects with them.

Discovering new endothelial cell markers

This first project looked into the differences in and variety of vascular endothelial cells, particularly in the microcirculation in different parts of the body, using both animal and in vitro models. In addition, Genevia has helped Dr. Filgueira and his group with work related to microglia and their responses to different virus infections, studied in different experimental models and human models.

– The aim of the project on endothelial cells was to see whether it was possible to mimic the diversity of these cells in vitro. We isolated and cultured endothelial cells from the brain and liver microcirculation, and then did RNA expression analysis with Genevia. The differences were not that large – to a certain degree, endothelial cells are quite similar in different organs, he explains.

However, some interesting differences were detected, and Dr. Filgueira ordered antibodies to look further into proteins of about ten genes of interest. This led to a promising new direction:

– There were differences in the expression of these proteins between the brain and the liver. The gene products expressed in the brain, for example, are known but no one has looked further into them. We are still working on this, but I think we might possibly have detected new markers that could eventually be used worldwide. This would not have been possible without the data analysis provided by Genevia.

Seamless communication and flexibility

Dr. Filgueira is very happy with his decision to outsource bioinformatics. He highlights the seamless communication and flexibility of Genevia’s services. Remote meetings and data transfers have worked well, and Dr. Filgueira finds the solution economically reasonable, too.

– With Genevia, we are always able to direct the downstream analyses based on our research questions. Even though the results are not always what we were expecting, we are happy to get some very specific information on certain genes, based on which we can continue our research.

– There have been different people involved in analyzing our data and explaining the results to us, and I have been happy to work with all of them. They have always been able to accommodate our wishes and carefully explain all the analyses. The quality of the reports has been good, and if we have ever had any additional questions, they have been answered quickly. I would certainly recommend Genevia Technologies, and I hope the company is able to grow and keep going in the future, he summarizes.

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