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Tiny human intestine grown inside mouse

Gut tissue in rodents could test patient-specific disease treatments

1:00pm, October 19, 2014
iny specks of human intestinal tissue (stained pink)

LOOKS LIKE A GUT  Transplanted into mice, tiny specks of human intestinal tissue (stained pink) develop into working organs surrounded by a muscular sheath (stained green), just like real intestines.

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

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