Functional Small Bowel Parts
Patients suffering from serious gastro-intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease often have parts of their small intestines removed, leading to condition called short bowel syndrome (SBS). When large amounts of the small intestine are removed, the body is unable to absorb adequate amounts of nutrients to stay healthy. In some cases special diets may provide the necessary amount of nutrition, but most patients need to rely on intravenous nutrition. Small bowel transplantation is gaining attention as a feasible treatment option, however, its availability is very limited because of donor organ shortage.
Transplantable bioengineered intestinal tissue, made from the patients’ own stem cells, could be a solution to restore nutrient absorption. In previous experiments, researchers have succeeded in regenerating intestinal cells, but there is still a gap between cellular regeneration and whole organ regeneration.
Recently, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospitals managed to generate an intestine constituting of two sources of cells: endothelial cells and epithelial cells. Which, when transplanted to rats, was able to uptake glucose and fatty acids. Further development would be adding a functional enteric nervous system to aid in secretory function and motility.
The researchers expect that in the future adding bioengineered small intestinal segments could become a feasible treatment option for patients suffering from small bowel syndrome to aid in nutrient intake.
Short bowel syndrome is a malabsorption disorder caused by a lack of a functional small intestine
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