Can stem cells be the answer to replace damaged human tissues?

stem cell studies

Can cells from our own body be used to create spare parts?

Researchers at the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Cincinati Children’s Hospital Medical Center seem to have found a way. The scientists have successfully transplanted fully grown intestinal tissue developed from human stem cells into mice.

Using bio-engineering techniques, first the scientists converted pluri-potent stem cells into precursors of intestinal tissue called ‘organoids’. These ‘organoids’ were then genetically modified (so that the human cells were not rejected by mice) and transplanted into the kidney capsules of mice to provide ample blood supply for the growing organ. After six weeks, these ‘organoids’ grew into functional intestines.

“These studies support the concept that patient-specific cells can be used to grow intestine,” Michael Helmrath, the study leader and surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center said.

The researchers believe that by using cells generated from a patient’s own body, the risks and cost of life-long treatment against transplant rejection can be mitigated.

“The idea is that one day it may be possible to grow replacement tissues within the patient without the need for an organ transplant. It essentially uses the ability of cells themselves to self-organize into a working organ,” Helmrath said.


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