The accomplishment provides a much-needed resource for scientists eager to uncover the true mechanisms of human stem cell biology. It also enables them to explore new tactics to treat inflammatory bowel disease or to ameliorate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, which often damage the gut.
"Not having these cells to study has been a significant roadblock to research," said senior study author Scott T. Magness, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of medicine, biomedical engineering, and cell and molecular physiology at UNC. "Until now, we have not had the technology to isolate and study these stem cells – now we have to tools to start solving many of these problems"
The UNC study, published online April 4, 2013, in the journal Stem Cells, represents a leap forward for a field that for many years has had to resort to conducting experiments in cells from mice. While significant progress has been made using mouse models, differences in stem cell biology between mice and humans have kept researchers from investigating new therapeutics for human afflictions.
"While the information we get from mice is good foundational mechanistic data to explain how this tissue works, there are some opportunities that we might not be able to pursue until we do similar experiments with human tissue," lead study co-author Adam D. Gracz, a graduate student in Magness' lab. Megan K. Fuller, MD, was also co-lead author of the study.
The Magness lab was the first in the United States to isolate and grow single intestinal stem cells from mice, so they had a leg up when it came to pursuing similar techniques in human tissue. Plus the researchers were able to get sections of human small intestine for their experiments that otherwise would have been discarded after gastric bypass surgery at UNC.
To develop their technique, the researchers investigated whether the approach they had taken in mice would work in human tissue. They first looked to see if the same molecules they had found stuck on the surface of mouse stem cells were also present on human stem cells. The researchers established that these specific molecules – called CD24 and CD44 -- were indeed the same between the two species. They then attached fluorescent tags to these molecules and used a special machine called a fluorescence activated cell sorter to identify and isolate the stem cells from the small intestine samples.
They found that not only could they isolate the human stem cells from human intestinal tissue, but that they also could separate different types of intestinal stem cells from each other. These two types of stem cells – active and reserve – are a hot topic for stem cell researchers who are still trying to figure out how reserve stem cells cycle in to replenish active stem cells damaged by injury, chemotherapy or radiation.
"Now that we have been able to do this, the next step is to carefully characterize these populations to assess their potential," said Magness. "Can we expand these cells outside of the body to potentially provide a cell source for therapy? Can we use these for tissue engineering? Or to take it to the extreme, can we genetically modify these cells to cure inborn genetic disorders or inflammatory bowel disease? Those are some questions that we are going to explore in the future."
The research was funded by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), home of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) at UNC.
Les Lang | EurekAlert!
How cells hack their own genes
24.08.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals
23.08.2017 | American Chemical Society
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy