You may have seen video of stem cell-derived heart cells beating in a petri dish, but how about cultured intestinal cells contracting as though they were moving your lunch along? Well now you have. This video from Stanford researcher Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD, shows spontaneous contraction of an intestinal "organoid" - or tiny organ-like structure - grown in his lab. The tissue is replicating peristalsis, the muscular contraction that propels food through the intestinal tract.
In addition to flexing their muscles, these novel tissue cultures are being used for a host of diverse research projects - from studying the functions of intestinal stem cells to replicating bacterial interactions within the gut. The summer issue (.pdf) of Stanford Cancer Institute News reports on how the mini organs were developed, how they came to Kuo’s lab and how they're also being used to decipher the genetic mutations that cause healthy cells to turn cancerous.
Previously: Guts and glory: Growing intestinal tissue in a lab dish
Video courtesy of Kuo; Akifumi Ootani, PhD; and Manuel Amieva, MD
Michael Claeys is the senior communications manager for the Stanford Cancer Institute.