A team of scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for the first time has created functioning human intestinal tissue from stem cells. The study, published online Dec. 12 in Nature, was led by James Wells, a researcher in the division of developmental biology at Cincinnati Children’s, and included five Miami University alumni.
The process is a significant step toward studies of human intestinal development, function and disease, and toward generating intestinal tissue for transplantation, the researchers say.
“The hope is that our ability to turn stem cells into intestinal tissue will eventually be therapeutically beneficial for people with diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis, inflammatory bowel disease and short bowel syndrome,” Wells said.
Jason Spence, first author of the paper and a member of Well’s laboratory, received his doctorate from Miami in 2006. He worked with adviser Katia Del Rio-Tsonis, professor of zoology.
Of the 12 co-authors of the paper, “Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue in vitro,” Miami alumni included Spence; Scott Rankin, a zoology major who graduated in 2000 and received a masters’ degree in 2003 with adviser David Pennock, professor of zoology; Matthew Kuhar, ’09, a microbiology major who did undergraduate research with Gary Janssen, professor of microbiology; Kathryn Tolle, ’07, a zoology major who did undergraduate research with Kathy Killian, associate professor of zoology; and Elizabeth (Jones) Hoskins, who received her master’s degree in 2004 with adviser Lori Isaacson, professor of zoology.
For more information about the study and an audio slideshow, go to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website.