Artificial intestines come closer to reality

Last Updated: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 15:44

Washington: A new artificial intestine developed in a laboratory using collagen and stem cells, is expected to soon help treat people suffering from acute bowel disorders.

A team of researchers has created a tiny artificial intestine in the lab and they aim at scaling the tube up within three years so that it can be tested in human trials.

“We’re going to be taking these and inserting them into animals to see if it actually works,” Discovery News quoted John March, an assistant professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University who developed the artificial intestine structure as saying.

March is developing the artificial intestine with David Hackam, a pediatric surgeon and scientist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who specializes in treating bowel disorders.

The artificial intestines could be used to help treat patients suffering from bowel disorders including approximately 25,000 children worldwide born with a condition called short bowel syndrome who are missing a piece of intestine.

These patients need feeding tubes, and the rate of rejection for an intestinal transplant from another human is nearly 40 percent after one year, according to Dr. Hackam.

“Death from rejection as well as overwhelming infection remain unacceptably high,” he said.

Special moulds were used to cautiously produce the tube structure, including the tiny fingerlike projections found in real intestine lining called “villi.”

The scientists plan to grow stem cells removed from a gut and seed them onto the tube. Eventually they envisage using human cells so that a patient’s cells would fill the open spaces in the “gut tube reactor,” which should help avert rejection.

“Basically the whole thing is built out of the patient’s own body,” March said.

“We’re just giving it a place to grow.”

“These finger-like projections are really quite tall and have a high aspect ratio meaning that they have a curve, and then they’re much higher than they are wide,” March added.

ANI



First Published: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 15:44

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