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Growing human GI cells may lead to personalized treatments
Date:8/7/2014

"While it has been technically possible to isolate intestinal epithelial stem cells from patients, it has been challenging to use the material in ways that would benefit them on an individual basis," said co-senior investigator Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck, MD, PhD, a professor of pathology and immunology. "This study advances the field in that we have developed new methods that allow for the rapid expansion of intestinal epithelial stem cells in culture. That breaks a bottleneck and allows us to develop new ways to test drug and environmental interactions in specific patients."

To grow the human cells, the researchers adapted a system used to grow intestinal epithelial stem cells in mice. In the GI tract, epithelial cells line the inner surface of the esophagus, stomach and intestines.

"An additional important feature of this system is that we can isolate stem cell lines from intestinal biopsies," said first author Kelli L. VanDussen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Stappenbeck's laboratory. "These biopsies are very small tissue fragments that are routinely collected by a gastroenterologist during endoscopy procedures. We have refined this technique, so we have nearly 100 percent success in creating cell lines from individual patient biopsies."

The researchers developed an experimental system that created high levels of critical factors to isolate and expand intestinal epithelial stem cells, including a signaling protein called Wnt and a related protein called R-spondin, which enhances the Wnt signal. They also exposed the cells to a protein called Noggin, which prevented the cells from differentiating into other cell types that live in the GI tract.

After growing the intestinal cell lines, the investigators collaborated with Phillip I. Tarr, MD, the Melvin E. Carnahan Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, to conduct experiments and see how the cells interacted with
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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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Growing human GI cells may lead to personalized treatments
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