CINCINNATI, Nov. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scientists report in Nature Medicine using human pluripotent stem cells to grow human intestinal tissues that have functioning nerves in a laboratory, and then using these to recreate and study a severe intestinal nerve disorder called Hirschsprung's disease.
Published online Nov. 21, the findings describe an unprecedented approach to engineer and study tissues in the intestine - the body's largest immune organ, its food processor and main interface with the outside world. Study authors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say the paper puts medical science a step closer to using human pluripotent stem cells (which can become any cell type in the body) for regenerative medicine and growing patient-specific human intestine for transplant. "One day this technology will allow us to grow a section of healthy intestine for transplant into a patient, but the ability to use it now to test and ask countless new questions will help human health to the greatest extent," said Michael Helmrath, MD, co-lead study investigator and surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at Cincinnati Children's. This ability starts with being able to model and study intestinal disorders in functioning, three-dimensional human organ tissue with genetically-specific patient cells. The technology will also allow researchers to test new therapeutics in functioning lab-engineered human intestine before clinical trials in patients.