Scientists at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have successfully grown a working stomach in the laboratory according to the Daily Mail. Using tissue from the stomach’s fundus region, scientists used stem cells to create the stomach. The tissue that grew from the stem cells were able to produce digestive enzymes and stomach acid just like a real stomach. The team at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center previously grew tissue gathered from the antrum region of the stomach as well.
These latest developments will go a long way in helping researchers find out how certain substances affect the stomach and how to better combat stomach and digestive diseases. “Now that we can grow both antral-and fundic-type human gastric mini-organs, it’s possible to study how these human gastric tissues interact physiologically, respond differently to infection, injury and react to pharmacologic treatments. Diseases of the stomach impact millions of people in the United States, and gastric cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide,” director of the Pluripotent Stem Cell Facility at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Dr. Jim Wells had to say. The next step is for scientists to put a fully grown stomach organ in mice and observe the effects the new stomach has on the host for more research.
Stem cells are undifferentiated, meaning they have yet to develop a specific cellular function, cells that can take the function of any cell type and start to replicate making more stem cells. Stem cells are very valuable because a number of diseases and injuries that can cause a destruction of cells can be combated by replacing dead or absence cells with new healthy ones. A number of different kinds of stem cells exist but pluripotent stem cells are the cells that can take on the function of any type of cell. Stem cell therapy has gained immense popularity over the years with many diseases and injuries being researched including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, baldness, and much more.
Though stem cells have very promising solutions to a number of health issues humans face, there has been controversy over the use of stem cells particularly those that are taken from human embryos. Much of the controversy has caused by religious concern that it may be immoral to use human embryos for the purpose of harvesting cells. A majority of stem cell researches don’t involve embryonic stem cells and use other types of pluripotent stem cells. The continued research might eliminate the need for embryonic stem cells and put the controversy to rest.