In a study posted online Dec. 12 by Nature, scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say their findings will open the door to unprecedented studies of human intestinal development, function and disease. The process is also a significant step toward generating intestinal tissue for transplantation, researchers say.
"This is the first study to demonstrate that human pluripotent stem cells in a petri dish can be instructed to efficiently form human tissue with three-dimensional architecture and cellular composition remarkably similar to intestinal tissue," said James Wells, Ph.D., senior investigator on the study and a researcher in the division of Developmental Biology at Cincinnati Children's.
"The hope is that our ability to turn stem cells into intestinal tissue will eventually be therapeutically beneficial for people with diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis, inflammatory bowel disease and short bowel syndromes," he added.
In the study, a team of scientists led by Dr. Wells and study first author Jason Spence, Ph.D. -- a member of Dr. Wells' laboratory -- used two types of pluripotent cells: human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). iPSCs were generated by reprogramming biopsied human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells. This was done in collaboration with Cincinnati Children's researchers Susanne Wells, Ph.D., and Chris Mayhew, Ph.D., co-director of the institution's Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility.
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