James Wells PhD and stomach organoid.

James Wells, PhD, (top) led a Nature study reporting success developing a more advanced stomach organoid. Michael Helmrath, MD, was co-leader of a project that added functional nerves to intestinal organoids (bottom).


Stomach organoid progress

In a Jan. 4, 2017, online report in Nature, researchers describe growing tissue in vitro that replicates the corpus/fundus region of the stomach. This comes just two years after the same team generated tissue that mimics the stomach’s antrum region.

 Investigators now can grow both parts of the stomach to study disease, potential treatments, and to understand health in ways never before possible, says James Wells, PhD, principal investigator and Director of our Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility. “Now that we can grow both antral- and corpus/fundic-type human gastric mini-organs, it’s possible to study how these tissues interact physiologically, respond differently to infection and injury, and react to pharmacologic treatments,” he says. 


Intestine organoid gets nerves

Scientists here also reported online Nov. 21, 2016, in Nature Medicine that they grew human intestinal tissue with functioning nerves to recreate and study the intestinal nerve disorder Hirschsprung’s disease.

Their findings describe an unprecedented approach to engineering and studying tissues in the intestine, and move science closer to using human pluripotent stem cells for regenerative medicine.

“One day this technology will allow us to grow a section of healthy intestine for transplant into a patient, but the ability to use it now to test and ask countless new questions will help human health to the greatest extent,” said Michael Helmrath, MD, co-lead investigator and Surgical Director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program.