Scientists believe this could one day help people with Crohn’s disease
Scientists have built a new rat intestine by combining part of the animal’s own bowel with human stem
cells. One day, this method could be used in humans with intestinal problems who currently have to rely
on organ transplants.
A variety of diseases, including Crohn’s disease, lead to people having short bowels, which makes it
harder for their bodies to absorb nutrients. One common solution is bowel transplant, but there is a
shortage of intestines and, as with all transplants, the patient’s body often rejects the new organ. For a
study published today in the journal Nature Communications, researchers grew new intestines in the lab.
This new intestine worked about as well as the original bowel to absorb and transfer nutrients, and
continued to survive for at least four weeks after it was transplanted back into the rat. This
transplantation method is still in early stages. We need to see how long the new organ can function, and
there will be challenges for repeating the technique with larger animals. But it provides promise for
creating intestines for humans in the future.