Cincinnati scientists have lab grown a human esophagus entirely out of human stem cells.
Organoids as scientists call it are lab grown tiny balls of tissues that resemble human organs like brains, kidneys, stomachs and esophagus using human adult tissues.
Scientists use these miniature organs to understand the normal development of organs and what causes them to fail, resulting in disorders.
Organoids have many uses for scientists as they are three dimensional models of the real thing and using lab mice anatomy for study is difficult as it is different from humans. They can also be utilized to test different kinds of drugs to see the various responses of patients to treatments, and since they are lab grown all kinds of experiments can be done without harm or ethical issue.
Following the recipe
To create the mini esophagus, the scientists utilized induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS that has the ability to morph into other types of cells in the body. They then coaxed these cells to grow into esophagus cells by adding proteins, genes and chemicals like Sox2 that are linked to conditions of the esophagus.
This specific gene is responsible for helping develop the esophagus in the embryo of humans. The researchers worked for at least two months to grow the organoids in their lab.
The scientists from Cincinnati have grown a number of organoids that can help patients with their diagnosis of their medical conditions in the esophagus. People with esophageal disorders can have tissue from their esophagus extracted to be grown into miniature versions of their organ where doctors can examine them without poking inside your body, possibly providing a more accurate diagnosis.
Wealth of possibilities
The team hopes that in the future, they can grow organoids that can be transplanted into patients with genetic disorders in that area or who have suffered damage like removing tumors caused by cancer.
They are looking into possibilities of using stem cells over tissue from patients that may create bigger, more natural esophagus that has more cell types.