WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Despite scientists producing lab-grown tissue called organoids with the use of gels, they warned that the gels cannot be used on people.
- However, a new gel sourced from piglets’ intestines was found by a group of experts to support cell growth in the small intestine, liver and pancreas.
- Based on test findings, the gel could potentially be used in clinical settings to treat human patients.
Thanks to piglets, humans may be one step closer to being recipients of lab-grown pancreas and livers.
While ‘mini placentas’, ‘lab-grown brains’, ‘tiny human stomachs’ and ‘pea-sized human lungs’ have already been created by researchers, experts said the gels being used to grow human organoids have been unsuitable for use in people.
But a new gel derived from the intestines of piglets was found by scientists at University College London, Great Ormond Street and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences to support the growth of organoids such as small intestine, liver, stomach and pancreas.
Organoids are tiny tissue cultures derived from stem cells that can replicate the shape and function of an organ. So far, tests have suggested that it could be used in clinical settings.
According to the experts behind the ‘extracellular-matrix (ECM) hydrogel’ which was led by Professor Paolo De Coppi, at the National Institute for Health Research, the gel provides the same level of support to stem cells in cell growth as synthetic gels, suggesting that the gel could be used for organoid transplantation in the future.
“Our findings mark a major step towards seeing tissue grown from stem cells being used in clinical settings to treat patients,” Professor De Coppi said, adding that organoids can potentially open up new options for regenerative medicine and aid in how complex conditions are treated.
“This could open up the possibility of providing organoid transplants for patients affected by devastating diseases such as short bowel syndrome to improve intestinal function,” explained Professor De Coppi.
Despite the exciting discovery, the study is still in its early stages of development with many barriers to overcome before organoids can be applied in human medicine.
The paper is published in Nature Communications.
Source: Daily Mail