Doctors at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health have made progress towards engineering donated intestines, so that they can be implanted without rejection.
Tissue engineering involves using a donated organ, stripping it of cells from the donor, and rebuilding the organ using the recipient’s own stem cells. The resulting organ does not trigger the recipient patient’s immune system.
The technique has been used clinically in humans, with the world’s first stem cell assisted trachea transplant in a child at Great Ormond Street and with clinical successes in adults at other centers. Collaborators at other centers have also succeeded in similar development of bladders and urethras, including clinical success in humans.
However, the intestine poses an issue in that in order to work, it is necessary to replicate the complex structure of the intestinal villi. Previous successes with the technology have been in inherently less complex organs.
Paolo de Coppi (pictured) and colleagues have demonstrated in the lab a technique which successfully retains these structures, by removing the original cells through the vascular system. The resulting scaffold should be suitable for stem cell use and subsequent transplant.
Paolo de Coppi said, “Management of intestinal failure through conventional means poses a number of problems for the patient. The option of an engineered intestine, made partly from the patient’s own cells, would be an important clinical advance. This paper represents a step forward and we hope to publish promising studies with human tissue in due course.”
Illustration: University College London.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children News Release (02/06/12)
Abstract (Biomaterials; Vol. 33, Issue 12, 3401-3410 (04/12))