Understanding how mucus changes, and what it changes in response to, can help diagnose illnesses and develop treatments. Researchers develop a system to grow mucus-producing intestinal cells and study the characteristics of the mucus in different conditions. The process involves growing a layer of intestinal cells on a laboratory plate exposed to air. These cells produce a layer of mucus that the researchers can easily access for testing. Using a magnetic wire, they can measure the consistency of the mucus without affecting its properties, and the platform can explore the effects of pathogens and help develop medications to combat them.