In collaboration with Dr Martin Garnett, Dr Snow Stolnik-Trenkic, and Dr Franco Falcone, and Prof Bob Stevens at Nottingham Trent University, and with funding from the Dr Hadwen Trust, we are developing improved in vitro models of the human gut epithelium. The Caco-2 cell model is widely used as a simplified model of the gut, for studying the permeability of drugs and other molecules across a polarised epithelial layer, but the cells are cultured in medium containing non-human serum. Our group had recently shown that Caco-2 cells can be cultured in serum-free conditions on a basement membrane, as would be found in vivo, and this affects the permeability of model compounds (Vllasaliu et al., 2014, Exp. Cell Res.323, 218-31). The aim of the current work is to extend this to incorporate other cell types, as would be found in the intestine, to increase the complexity of the basement membrane, and to develop better supports for the cells that have greater permeability than other commercially available systems.