Let me begin by saying I hope you all had a great Christmas and new year (I know we’re nearly in February). Sorry for the huge delay in posting, not only am I currently searching for a job but I’ve also landed a voluntary content writer position with The Geek Show, as their first science writer. I’ll link you to the website section in this article if you want to see some of my stuff there. I’ll do my best to post with more regularity in the future. Peace out and thanks.
Bit of a click-bait, let me elaborate. Three-dimensional human stomach tissues have been generated through the utilisation of pluripotent stem cells. They were grown in a Petri dish and the functioning tissues formed produce acid and digestive enzymes. The research group from Cincinnati grew tissues from the corpus/fundus (acid and enzyme-producing) region of the stomach and, two years previously, the same team generated the stomach’s hormone-producing region (the antrum). Due to the team’s findings, it is now possible to grow both parts of the human stomach for the development of treatments of cancer and more.
Human pluripotent stem cells, cells that have the amazing ability to become any cell in the body, were used to generate the stomach tissue. Effectively, a mini stomach was created. Considering mice used to be the primary source for carrying out stomach research, being able to generate actual human tissue will prove to be much more advantageous in years to come. In particular, stomach disease patterns can now be more thoroughly researched and examined.
Considering gastric cancers are the third-leading cause of cancerous deaths in the world, it is fantastic that both stomach regions can now be generated, making it possible to see how the gastric tissues interact. Dr Jim Wells, the director of the Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility at Cincinnati Children’s, stated the same, adding that it is possible to see how the tissues “respond differently to infection, injury and react to pharmacologic treatments.”
Engineering the stomach tissue wasn’t easy. To begin with, it was unknown how the stomach forms in embryonic development. Without knowing this, it’s impossible to even consider generating any tissue. To address this, the team used mice to determine the genetics behind stomach development in the embryo.
A crucial genetic pathway (WNT/ß-Catenin) was identified as playing an essential role in guiding the development of the corpus/fundus region in mouse embryos. The research team then altered the pathway in a Petri dish to initiate the formation of human fundus organoids from pluripotent stem cells.
The process was then refined to identify other molecular signalling pathways that drive the formation of the fundus region’s critical cell types, such as parietal cells that secrete hydrochloric acid for digestion and chief cells that produce pepsin, an important digestive enzyme.
The team now plan to study the ability of tissue-engineered stomach organoids by transplanting them into mouse models in order to model human gastric diseases.