Towards Tissue Engineered Large Intestines

Last year a research group demonstrated that they could build tissue engineered sections of small intestine in mice. That same group is also working on producing structures of the large intestine using human cells, and here is an update on their progress:

[Researchers] have for the first time grown tissue-engineered human large intestine. ... Our aim is exact replacement of the tissue that is lacking. There are many important functions of the large intestine, and we can partially compensate for that loss through other medical advances, but there are still patients for whom this technology might be revolutionary if we can cross the translational hurdles. This is one of the advances that brings us toward our goal.

The human tissue-engineered colon includes all of the required specialized cell types that are found in human large intestine. The research team grew the tissue-engineered large intestine from specific groups of cells, called organoid units that were derived from intestinal tissue normally discarded after surgery. The organoid units grew on a biodegradable scaffold. After 4 weeks, the human tissue-engineered colon contained the differentiated cell types required in the functioning colon, and included other key components including smooth muscle, ganglion cells, and components of the stem cell niche. ... This proof-of-concept experiment is an important step in transitioning tissue-engineered colon to human therapy.



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