Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mini-intestine grown in a test tube

20.11.2015

The ability to grow three-dimensional precursors of an organ from stem cells in a Petri dish has brought about a revolution in the field of biomedicine. But exactly what can be researched on such an organoid in vitro? A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now shown for the first time how artificially grown mini-intestines can be used in nutritional and diabetic research.

Research efforts on the intestine have increased in recent years. Owing to its enormous surface area – comparable to that of a one-bedroom apartment – and the huge number of neurons it contains – comparable to that in the brain – the intestine is sometimes referred to as the abdominal brain.


Organoids just a quarter of a millimeter across exhibit functions of the human intestine. (Photo: TUM/ Zietek)


The diagram shows on the right side a mini-intestine grown in a test tube and on the left you can see how it works. (Photo: TUM/ Zietek)

In addition to absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat, it influences our immune status and metabolism. With the help of sensors, specialized cells in the intestinal wall determine which hormones, if any, should be released into the bloodstream. Overall, it acts as a highly sophisticated control center.

How an organoid grows from cells

Among their many functions, intestinal hormones, known as incretins, control blood glucose levels, appetite and fat metabolism. Diabetics and obese individuals have already been successfully treated with drugs based on the mechanisms of action of these hormones. However, still too little is known about the precise mechanism behind incretin release.

Applying a new method that is used mainly in stem-cell research and regenerative medicine, researchers from the Technical University of Munich have now devised a robust intestinal model for molecular research into incretin release in a test tube (in vitro).

To do so, they first isolate small pieces of intestine containing stem cells – in this case from mice. In the next step, a nutrient solution in a test tube stimulates the stem cells to develop into an organ-like structure. In just a few days, a spherical organoid forms that measures just a quarter of a millimeter across and is suitable for use in research.

Mini-intestine functions like normal intestinal tissue

“The special thing about our scientific work on the intestinal organoid is that we can observe its inner workings,” explains Dr. Tamara Zietek of the Department of Nutrition Physiology. “The mini-intestines exhibit all the essential functions of a real intestine,” the TUM scientist adds.

The intestinal organoid can:

actively absorb nutrients and drugs
release hormones after activation by nutrients
transmit signals within the intestinal cells to control these processes.

“Until now, it was not possible to investigate these processes in a single model, because conventional models are unsuitable for all these measurements,” says Zietek, the corresponding author of the article that appeared in Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group. In addition, once mini-intestines have been grown, researchers can work with them for months, because they can be replicated in the laboratory.

“This drastically reduces the number of experimental animals needed,” says the scientist. Interdisciplinary collaboration Zietek developed the method in collaboration with Dr. Eva Rath of the Department of Nutrition and Immunology. Working on an interdisciplinary basis, the two scientists have combined organoid cultivation with molecular nutritional research. They are now demonstrating that the mini-intestine is an ideal model for investigating hormone release and transport mechanisms in the digestive tract.

“This is a huge advance for gastroenterological basic research as well as biomedical sciences and pharmacology,” Zietek believes. The next step will be to work with mini-intestines grown from human intestinal biopsy material. “We’re already in contact with a hospital that can provide the required research material.”In view of the growing number of diabetics and obese individuals, this method can help nutritional researchers develop new forms of treatment.

Publication:
Tamara Zietek, Eva Rath, Dirk Haller und Hannelore Daniel: Intestinal organoids for assessing nutrient transport, sensing and incretin secretion, Nature Scientific Reports 19.11.2015.
DOI: 10.1038/srep16831

Contact:
Dr. Tamara Zietek
Technical University of Munich
Department of Nutrition and Immunology
Phone: +49 (0)8161/71 3553
Mail: zietek@tum.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/32752/

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>