Human intestines grown in lab, transplanted into rats
Human intestines have been grown in the lab and transplanted into rats – offering hope of new treatments for serious gut disorders, scientists have revealed. The breakthrough could combat the organ donor shortage crisis, leading to better therapies for Crohn’s disease and even cancer.
It opens the door to creating tissues made uniquely for patients ‘on demand’ with no risk of rejection – ending the need for drugs, says the team. The technique involves creating a three-dimensional biological scaffold made with human stem cells called iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells).
When implanted into rats they were able to deliver nutrients into the bloodstream. The result could improve the outlook for short bowel syndrome, a condition where patients lose most of their intestine due to trauma, surgery or disease, such as gastrointestinal tumors.
The current treatment is a transplant but there are a limited number of organs and the three year survival rate is low. Bowel transplants have one of the highest rejection rates.
This is because the intestines are laden with immune system cells from the donor and these are particularly vulnerable to attack from the recipient’s immune system. The latest study published in Nature Communications involved one and a half inch segments of small intestine.
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