A pioneering new study from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and The Francis Crick Institute co-funded by the Rosetrees Trust has seen researchers grow the world’s first oesophagus engineered from stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice, according to results published in Nature Communications. Around one in 3,000 babies (in the UK) are born with a life-changing defect of the gut such as oesophageal atresia, which results in an incomplete oesophagus. The study was carried out in pre-clinical models and further research is needed but it is hoped that this new research could ultimately pave the way for clinical trials of lab-grown oesophageal tissue for children with congenital and acquired gut conditions.
Paolo De Coppi, who is co-lead author of the paper, Consultant at GOSH and Head of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at ICH said:“This is a major step forward for regenerative medicine, bringing us ever closer to treatment that goes beyond repairing damaged tissue and offers the possibility of rejection-free organs and tissues for transplant.”
Study co-lead author Dr Paola Bonfanti, who is also a Group Leader at The Francis Crick Institute and Research Associate at ICH said: “This is the first time that such a complicated organ has been grown in the lab. Not only is the gut tube shaped, but as it also consists of several different layers of cells, which means we had to use a multi-step approach to develop a piece of oesophagus which resembles and works the same as a normal one.” More information can be found here.