Human colon stem cells have been identified and grown in a lab-plate for the first time. This achievement, made by researchers of the Colorectal Cancer Lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and published in Nature Medicine, is a crucial advance towards regenerative medicine.
Throughout life, stem cells of the colon regenerate the inner layer of our large intestine in a weekly basis. For decades scientists had evidences of the existence of these cells yet their identity remained elusive. Scientists led by the ICREA Professor and researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) Eduard Batlle discovered the precise localization of the stem cells in the human colon and worked out a method that allows their isolation and in vitro expansion, that is their propagation in lab-plates. Growing cells outside the body generally requires providing the cells in a lab-plate with the right mix of nutrients, growth factors and hormones. But in the same way that each of the more than 200 types of cells in our body differs from the others so too do optimal growing conditions in the lab. Consequently, human adult stem cell culture in labs has been a truly impossible mission until now. Batlle's team has also established the conditions for maintain living human colon stem cells (CoSCs) outside of the human body: "This is the first time that it has been possible to grow single CoSCs in lab-plates and to derive human intestinal stem cell lines in defined conditions in a lab setting," explains the IRB Barcelona researcher Peter Jung, first author of the study together with Toshiro Sato, from the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands.
The development, published by Batlle's research group in the prestigious journal Nature
Medicine, arrives after more than 10 years of intense research focused on the characterization
of the biology of the intestinal stem cells and its connection with cancer. The research has
|Contact: Itziar Castanedo|
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)