Gut problems? Perhaps not for much longer. Scientists have recently been able to grow fully functional human intestine – albeit miniature – in mice. They harvested a small amount of human intestine (pictured) and ground it up and soaked it in an enzyme solution. The mixture was then squirted into a polymer scaffold – a protein structure used to support and help the cells grow – and then implanted into a mouse. Examining the tissue-engineered small intestine (TESI) after four weeks showed it contained many features typical of human intestines, such as specialised cells that release mucus and others that release gastrointestinal hormones. This result is a step towards pioneering this technique for human treatment. In particular, it’s hoped that it could be used to grow intestine for premature babies and newborns who suffer from malnutrition due to insufficient small intestine, also known as short bowel syndrome.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.