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!
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering