Gut tissue in rodents could test patient-specific disease treatments
Slimy chunks of human gut can now grow up and get to work inside of mice.
Transplanted into rodents, tiny balls of tissue balloon into thumb-sized nuggets that look and act like real human intestines, researchers report October 19 in Nature Medicine.
The work is the first time scientists have been able to transform adult cells into working bits of intestines in living animals. These bits could help scientists tailor treatments for patients with bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or cancer, says study coauthor Michael Helmrath, a pediatric surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Doctors could test drugs on the gut nuggets and see how a patient’s tissues respond without having to subject the person to a slew of different treatments.
“If you give me a patient, I can grow their intestines,” Helmrath says.
For decades, researchers have tried and failed to cultivate human