The science of tissue engineering has been constructed on a foundation of a very simple concept; take out the patient’s own cells, grow them in a sterile environment similar to that of a human body and infuse them on a scaffolding material to provide 3-dimensional support. With this recipe, you may have your own laboratory-grown organ ready! It is interesting to note that quite a few patients have experienced the benefits of this fastest growing technology. Could change be on the horizon?
Various scientific investigations have been frequently hailed as putting forth a novel yet a breakthrough treatment to change the meaning of lives of many patients, who have been suffering from degenerative diseases since long. However, it should be noted that researchers have to travel a really long road to turn a laboratory invention into viable clinical modalities. In this regard, current medical issues associated with gastrointestinal functioning are marred with various challenges; new solutions to take over the control are sorely needed.
Currently, almost about 25 out of 1, 00,000 newly born babies only in developed countries like the United States, have to deal with short bowel syndrome that can have serious complications throughout their lives. Apparently, short bowel syndrome can also trouble many adults because of partial removal of the intestine, due to cancer or surgery. Moreover, almost 26 % of the women across the globe have been reported to experience fecal incontinence due to anal sphincter damage that can be attributed to various issues, like childbirth, surgery, pregnancy at old age, etc.
In order to address these issues, a research team from the Institute of regenerative medicine has been struggling with the development of new therapies for a number of bowel disorders. However, the likelihood of these treatment advancements reaching desperate patients has to be evaluated yet.
Behind tissue reconstruction, the goal of the researchers is to exploit a patient’s own cells and engineer them on a 3-dimensional material to be able to replace dead, damage and non-functioning tissue. However, tissue engineering is facing one of the biggest issues is to sync all functional cells together to get the desired outcome. As a matter of fact, a small intestine is one of the complicated tissues of the digestive tract, made up of muscle cells, neurons and tissue-specific cells that are required to work in a synchronized manner for better contraction as well as forward propulsion of the food, while moving through the gut. These cells have to be aligned through proper coordination and signaling mechanism in order to allow easy contraction.
Accordingly, in a similar preclinical analysis, sheets with monolayered cells are allowed to be transferred on a small hollow tube designed synthetically to be able to form small intestines. These tubes were then implanted in the rats and were observed for around 4 weeks. The period of acclimatization was proposed to see vascular infiltration of blood vessels. After a period of 6 weeks or so the histopathological analysis confirmed further that cells required for easy nutritional uptake from food began to migrate into the tube and started attaching.
Thus, these results further motivated researchers around the world to engineer human intestine, which can be used as a viable treatment option for a variety of intestinal issues.