Scientists build a stomach from stem cells

In a world first, scientists in Cincinatti have used stem cells to create functional, three dimensional human stomach tissue in a laboratory. The project provides hope for the 10% of the world's population suffering from stomach diseases including peptic ulcers and cancer.

The researchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center reported in Nature that they had used the miniature stomachs to study infection by H. pylori bacteria, a major cause of stomach disease. They are also studying some of the underpinnings of obesity related diabetes.

"Until this study, no one had generated gastric cells from human pluripotent stem cells," said Jim Wells, the team leader. "In addition, we discovered how to promote formation of three-dimensional gastric tissue with complex architecture and cellular composition."

This is important because differences between species in the embryonic development and architecture of the adult stomach make mouse models less than optimal for studying human stomach development and disease, Wells added.

The scientists first identified the steps involved in normal stomach formation during embryonic development. By manipulating these normal processes, the scientists were able to coax pluripotent stem cells toward becoming stomach.

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