Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Stem cells turned into complex, functioning intestinal tissue in lab

For the first time, scientists have created functioning human intestinal tissue in the laboratory from pluripotent stem cells.

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.

hESCs are called pluripotent because of their ability to become any of the more than 200 different cell types in the human body. iPSCs can be generated from the cells of individual patients, and therapeutic cells derived from those iPSCs would have that person's genetic makeup and not be at risk of rejection. Because iPSC technology is new, it remains unknown if these cells have all of the potential of hESCs, Dr. Wells explained. This prompted the researchers to use both iPSCs and human embryonic stem cells in this study so they could further test and compare the transformative capabilities of each.

To turn pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue, scientists performed a timed series of cell manipulations using chemicals and proteins called growth factors to mimic embryonic intestinal development in the laboratory.

The first step turned pluripotent stem cells into an embryonic cell type called definitive endoderm, which gives rise to the lining of the esophagus, stomach and intestines as well as the lungs, pancreas and liver. Next, endoderm cells were instructed to become one those organ cell types, specifically embryonic intestinal cells called a "hindgut progenitors". The researchers then subjected the cells to what they describe as a "pro-intestinal" cell culture system that promoted intestinal growth.

Within 28 days, these steps resulted in the formation of three-dimensional tissue resembling fetal intestine that contained all the major intestinal cell types – including enterocytes, goblet, Paneth and enteroendocrine cells. The tissue continued to mature and acquire both the absorptive and secretory functionality of normal human intestinal tissues and also formed intestine-specific stem cells.

Dr. Wells said his team and other researchers around the world will be able to build on these findings. The process will be used as a tool to study normal intestinal development in humans and what goes wrong with the intestine in people with diseases.

Another important next step is to determine if the intestinal tissue is effective in transplant-based treatments of intestinal diseases such as short bowel syndrome. This approach is first being tested in animals in collaboration with co-author Noah Shroyer, Ph.D., and Michael Helmrath, M.S., M.D., a transplant surgeon at Cincinnati Children's. Ultimately, the researchers want to translate those methods into treatment for people.

The researchers said the study's findings will also facilitate studies to design better drugs that are more easily taken up by the body, since the intestine absorbs most drugs taken orally.

Also collaborating on the study from the Cincinnati Children's divisions of Developmental Biology, Hematology/Oncology, Pulmonary Biology and Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition were Scott Rankin, Matthew Kuhar, Jefferson, Vallance, Kathryn Tolle, Elizabeth Hoskins, Vladimir Kalinichenko and Aaron Zorn.

Primary funding support came from grants through the National Institutes of Health to Drs. James Wells and Zorn and from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

About Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of just eight children's hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report's 2010-11 Best Children's Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in pulmonology, cancer, neonatology, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, diabetes and endocrinology, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for quality and transformation work by Leapfrog, The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by hospitals and health organizations it works with globally. Additional information can be found at

Nick Miller | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>