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Scientists grow human intestines inside a mouse

By Tim Sandle     Jan 21, 2015 in Science
Scientists have begun growing human intestines in mice. The object of the research is to pave the way for better models of intestinal function and failure.
Beginning with a sample of human intestine, scientists have grown functioning segments of human intestine in the abdominal cavities of mice. The organs were formed with the correct intestinal structure, complete with all of the required features of the human intestines. Not only were the organs structurally sound, they also function as they would in a human. Here the intestinal segments could absorb and break down complex sugars, demonstrating their ability to function like real intestines.
The researchers hope that the new approach could one day offer a treatment for intestinal failure, which accounts for 2 percent of neonatal intensive care unit admissions and kills nearly a third of affected babies.
Speaking with the magazine New Scientist, one of the researchers, Tracy Grikscheit of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles said: “Having a surrogate system in which you can prove the tissue grows properly is important. Every time you scale things up—from, say, a mouse to the size of a human baby—then you need to have different conditions. We’re working on that right now.”
The study was carried out at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The findings have been published in the journal American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. The research paper is titled “Human and Mouse Tissue-Engineered Small Intestine Both Demonstrate Digestive And Absorptive Function.”
The study follows on from information produced by a different research group. With this alternative study, researchers used pluripotent stem cells to grow miniature human intestines inside the kidneys of immunosuppressed mice.
This second study was published in Nature Medicine. This study is titled “An in vivo model of human small intestine using pluripotent stem cells.”
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