'Organs in a dish' pave the way for personalized medicine in gut and liver disease

June 03, 2019

Oxford, June 3, 2019 - One of the most exciting advancements in stem cell research has been the development of organoid systems, which are organ-like three-dimensional structures that mimic their corresponding organ in vivo. In this important review in Digestive and Liver Disease, published by Elsevier, scientists highlight some of the established and exciting novel uses for organoids or "organs in a dish" in gastroenterology and hepatology and look towards the future in this exciting field.

Recent advances in stem cell biology have enabled long-term culturing of organotypic intestinal or hepatic tissues derived from tissue resident or pluripotent stem cells. These 3D structures, called organoids, represent a substantial advancement in structural and functional complexity over traditional in vitro cell culture models that are often non-physiological and transformed. Organoids can recapitulate the in vivo architecture, functionality, and genetic signature of the corresponding tissue. Therefore, there is increasing interest in using such cultured cells as a source for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and personalized medicine.

"Organoid technology can be used to reveal novel insights into basic biology such as stem cell biology, organogenesis, cellular differentiation, cell-cell interaction, and physiological functions but is also important for the future of regenerative medicine," explained lead author Prof. Dr. Markus F. Neurath, MD, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. "They can also be used to study the pathophysiology of various human diseases such as cancer, infection (host-microbe interaction), inflammation, and hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis."

Since organoids serve as a novel tool to model epithelial cell biology, epithelial turnover, barrier dynamics, immune-epithelial communication and host-microbe interaction, organoids have been chosen the method of the year 2017, not only for medical approaches, but also for basic science.

The authors highlight some of the most significant advances made over the past ten years related to gastroenterology and hepatology that have the potential to improve patient outcomes: "Although gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary organoids have been developed only in the last decade, they have already proven to be an invaluable tool for drug screening, disease modelling, and regenerative medicine," concluded Prof. Dr. Neurath and co-authors. "Challenges still remain; however, recent advances in bioengineering, organ-on-chip technology, single-cell analyses, and synthetic matrix development hold great promise for addressing current limitations and advancing the field even further, both in terms of mechanistic studies and clinical translation."


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