Bioengineering scientists working to produce the entire human gastrointestinal system in the laboratory reported that pluripotent stem cells were used to create a human esophagus. This is the first time scientists have been able to grow human pluripotent stem cell (PSC) esophageal tissue, cells that theoretically can form any type of body tissue.

Published in the Cell Stem Cell diary, the study presents the latest innovatotion from researchers at the Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CTU) in Cincinnati, United States. The center has the main stakes in finding new ways to study birth defects and diseases affecting millions of people with gastrointestinal disorders. The new work can lead to new personalized diagnostic methods and also focuses on the development of tissue regeneration therapies to treat or cure gastrointestinal disorders.

According to Jim Wells of CuSTOM, lead author of the study, diseases of the esophagus and trachea are common enough in humans so human models of organ esophagus are extremely beneficial. This could be useful to restore the tissue of the esophagus to patients.

After generating complete esophagus organoids – which increased to a length of 300-800 microns in about two months – the artificial tissues were then compared from the biochemical point of view with the natural ones from the biopsies. The tests showed a similarity in composition. This is a first step in the many that will follow in the process of creating the esophagus in the lab, exploiting the therapeutic potential of the method.

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