Robust Human Intestinal Organoids Are Created In The Lab

robust Human Intestinal Organoids

Pointers at Glance

  • Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) researchers notified that spheroids grown in suspension mature into human intestinal organoids when transferred to a bioreactor and differentiate into complex intestinal tissue upon transplantation.
  • Growing human body parts in the laboratory is a common trope of horror movies and sci-fi books. But growing miniature organ-like tissues in the lab is within our reach already.

Researchers from Japan have developed a novel approach that enables intestinal mini-organs to be grown more easily and efficiently in the lab. It holds immense promise for regenerative medicine.

Study Report

In a study published in November in Cell Reports Methods, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) announced that applying a few specialized lab techniques yields intestine-like tissues of predictable size and composition.

Organoids are organ-like balls of cells grown in the lab from spheroids (even more petite balls) of human cells and mimic the properties of the organ from which the “seed” cell was taken. Organoids are utilized for studying organ function in a laboratory setting and are also promising tools in the field of regenerative medicine.

Details By Authors Of The Study

Junichi Takahashi, the study’s first author, stated that there are established methods for growing human intestinal organoids (HIOs) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). However, these techniques are challenging to perform. They result in spheroids of various sizes and are limited by the growth conditions, which may result in deformed and unhealthy spheroids as time passes.

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To develop a more robust and consistent way to generate HIOs, the researchers explored using cell culture plates made with an ultra-low attachment polymer to encourage the cells to detach and grow in suspension. They also scrutinized the effects of growing the resulting spheroids in a bioreactor, a specialized incubator that keeps the growth medium constantly flowing to improve the health of the cells.

Tomohiro Mizutani, the corresponding author of the study, said that using their technique, they could grow spheroids of a predictable, consistent size that could be modified by modulating the number of cells seeded into the plates. Transferring the spheroids to a bioreactor lets them grow even larger into healthy HIOs.

These organoids were surrounded by mesenchyme, a type of tissue found between organs in the human body. Especially when the organoids were transplanted into mice, they kept growing and differentiating, developing a complex tissue architecture reflecting that of a mature intestine. The findings report that intestinal tissue can be generated from iPSC-derived HIOs by inducing spheroids in suspension and maturing them in a bioreactor.

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Given that more complex intestinal tissues have been generated using traditional techniques, this new approach could be easily adapted to create more complex organoids, such as intestine-like tissue containing blood vessels or nerves. These lab-grown tissues will not be valuable for regenerative medicine applications in the future.

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