Friday, March 12, 2010

Japanese Researchers Create Intestine from Stem Cells

In an apparent world first, Japanese researchers have succeeded in producing intestine from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can develop into various types of cells in the body.

Nara Medical University professor Yoshiyuki Nakajima and other researchers successfully produced the intestinal section in an experiment using mice. Previously it had been possible to produce sheet-like tissue, but this is reportedly the first time in the world that researchers have been able to produce intestine in tube form.

It is hoped that researchers will be able to apply the technology in regenerative medicine and organ transplants, and reproduce organs from the cells of patients that can be transplanted into their bodies without any adverse reaction.

Nakajima said that the researchers attached iPS cells to the underside of a Petri dish lid and cultivated the cells for six days under the weight of gravity. When they transferred the sample to the Petri dish and continued to cultivate it, the tissue began to develop into a cylindrical shape after about seven days. Two weeks later, it developed into the same tube shape as an intestine, with a membrane and muscle layer.

The tissue that was produced had a diameter of about 2 millimeters and was about 5 millimeters long. It exhibited the same peristaltic movement characteristic of intestines, and was observed trying to push out waste matter. It was unclear whether the intestine was a large or small intestine.

Japan's Riken research institute has succeeded in producing a three-dimensional brain sample, but other organs have been produced only in sheet form.

"A future topic will be how this can be applied to humans," Nakajima said. "This technology may also shed light on the mechanisms by which intestines succumb to illness. The body's rejection of small intestine transplants is severe, and this may enable surgery without complicating illnesses."

The group's research will be announced at a meeting of the Japanese Society for Regenerative Medicine, to be held in Hiroshima on March 18 and 19.

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