Working With Colon Stem Cells

Via EurekAlert!, news of research to complement recent work on tissue engineered intestines in mice: "Human colon stem cells have been identified and grown in a lab-plate for the first time. ... Throughout life, stem cells of the colon regenerate the inner layer of our large intestine in a weekly basis. For decades scientists had evidences of the existence of these cells yet their identity remained elusive. Scientists [discovered] the precise localization of the stem cells in the human colon and worked out a method that allows their isolation and in vitro expansion, that is their propagation in lab-plates. Growing cells outside the body generally requires providing the cells in a lab-plate with the right mix of nutrients, growth factors and hormones. But in the same way that each of the more than 200 types of cells in our body differs from the others so too do optimal growing conditions in the lab. ... For years, scientists all over the world have been trying to grow intestinal tissue in lab-plates; testing different conditions; using different nutritive media. But because the vast majority of cells in this tissue are in a differentiated state in which they do not proliferate, they survived only for a few days. ... The scientific community now has a defined 'recipe' for isolating CoSCs and deriving stable CoSCs lines, which have the capacity to grow undifferentiated for months. ... Now that guidelines for growing and maintaining colon stem cells in the lab are in place, we have an ideal platform that could help the scientific community to determine the molecular bases of gastrointestinal cell proliferation and differentiation. It is also suspected that alterations in the biology of CoSCs are at origin of several diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, such as colorectal cancer or Crohn's disease."



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