Researchers discover stem cell populations in human intestinal tissues

DoroWalz By DoroWalz, 6th Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Health

Researchers from the University of North Carolina have isolated, for the first time, two distinct stem cell populations from human intestinal tissues

A leap forward forward in stem cell research

In a recent study, scientists from the University of North Carolina (UNC) have managed to isolate and extract, for the first time, stem cells from human intestinal tissue (leftovers from several gastric bypass surgeries). The researchers say that although previous preclinical studies on mouse did indicate that these stem cells existed on humans, being actually able to isolate them is of great importance and may one help treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease and people with intestinal damages caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

The UNC scientists said that their discovery is "a leap forward" in stem cell research, as in the past researchers had only access to intestinal stem cells from mice. This acted as a major "roadblock", preventing them from exploring the safety and efficacy of new drugs for gut-related conditions.

"While the information we get from mice is good foundational mechanistic data to explain how this tissue works, there are some opportunities that we might not be able to pursue until we do similar experiments with human tissue," says Adam D. Gracz, one of the authors of the study.

The experiment

The UNC researchers had already in the past extracted intestinal stem cells from mice and in this study they tried to see if they could use the same method to extract these cells from human tissue. The researchers carried their experiments on human small intestine sections that were obtained by leftovers from previous gastric bypass surgeries on obese patients. They first investigated whether two proteins, known as, CD24 and CD44, were present in the intestinal tissues. Indeed they were, something which indicated the presence of intestinal stem cells. Then, with the help of special fluorescent tags they succesfuly isolated stem cells from the tissues

Two stem cell populations

Further experimentation revealed that the isolated stem cells were actually comprised by two distinct stem cell populations. One "active" and one "backup". The role of the active population is to immediately try to repair any damages induced to the gut whereas the second population is to simply replenish the active stem cells in case they are damaged.

Future plans

Now the researchers aim to continue studying these stem cells as many questions need to be answered:

"Can we expand these cells outside of the body to potentially provide a cell source for therapy? Can we use these for tissue engineering? Or to take it to the extreme, can we genetically modify these cells to cure inborn genetic disorders or inflammatory bowel disease? Those are some questions that we are going to explore in the future." said Magness, leading author of the study.


- CD24 and CD44 Mark Human Intestinal Epithelial Cell Populations with Characteristics of Active and Facultative Stem Cells
- Researchers isolate, for the first time, stem cells from human intestinal tissues


Intestinal Stem Cells, Intestine, Stem Cells

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author avatar DoroWalz
I will be writting for medical-related thingies ! :)

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author avatar Rania, Jamie & Reni
7th Apr 2013 (#)

DoroWalz, I am most pleased that the scientists have finally realized that bone marrow for instance can be duplicated without transplant.

This will be their next and final quest in that department.

Much good can come about from their studies and when they begin extractions of stem cells from people still in their infancy.

The scientists will learn to keep "banks" of the peoples "stem cells" in order to produce cures, when for instance a blood type is rare.

What an excellent article, my friend!

Uthrania Seila

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