Researchers at the University of North Carolina have for the first time isolated adult stem cells from human intestinal tissue. The research, published in the journal Stem Cells, represents a major step forward in stem cell research because previous studies have relied on isolating intestinal epithelial stem cells (IESCs) from mice and as such have limited direct clinical relevance.
“While the information we get from mice is good foundational mechanistic data to explain how this tissue works, there are some opportunities that we might not be able to pursue until we do similar experiments with human tissue,” lead study co-author Adam D. Gracz in a press release.
The researchers found that, in the same manner to mouse models, human IESCs expressed CD24 and CD44 on the cell surface. Using fluorescence-activated cell sorting they were able to isolate the stem cells and then separate LGR5 positive "active" stem cells from HOPX positive "facultative" stem cells.
“Now that we have been able to do this, the next step is to carefully characterize these populations to assess their potential,” said senior study author Scott T. Magness, PhD, in a press release. “Can we expand these cells outside of the body to potentially provide a cell source for therapy? Can we use these for tissue engineering? Or to take it to the extreme, can we genetically modify these cells to cure inborn genetic disorders or inflammatory bowel disease? Those are some questions that we are going to explore in the future.”
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If you'd like to hear more about innovations and strategy in regenerative medicine, you might be interested in attending the World Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Congress 21-23 May 2013, London. Click here to download the brochure.