Synthetic Hydrogels Deliver Cells to Repair Intestinal Injuries

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Summary: Researchers have created a new technology for treating the wounds in the gut caused by gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University Michigan have created a new technology by combining hydrogels (engineered polymeric materials) and organoids (complex intestinal tissue-made from human pluripotent stem cells) which helped in controlling the growth of these organoids and use them for treating wounds in the gut caused by gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. The research was carried in an animal model. Engineered hydrogels were used to create 3D growth environment – called as a matrix – which gives optimal physical and biochemical support for the organoid growth. The research was reported in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Hydrogel matrix combined with Organoids

Georgia Tech Graduate Research Assistant Ricardo Cruz-Acuña holds multiwell plates containing hydrogel matrix materials and human intestinal organoids (HIOs). Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

The engineered hydrogel not only allows the growth of organoids in a tissue culture incubator but also acts like a glue which allows organoids to stick to a place and contribute to the wound healing when transplanted into a mouse intestine which is injured. The synthetic matrix can be modified easily to suit the need of the cells being hosted. The hydrogel made of 96% water and a specific adhesion peptide was ideal for the Human Intestinal Organoids (HIOs). This work opens a door for clinical applications and proof of principle for using stem-cell-derived HIOs in a therapeutic setting. This technique has significant implications for treating intestinal injuries.

Prof. Andrés J. García, said, “We have shown that the hydrogel matrix helps the human intestinal organoids (HIOs) engraft into the intestinal tissue, that they differentiate and accelerate the healing of the wound”, “This work provides a proof of principle for using stem cell-derived human intestinal organoids in a therapeutic setting.”

More Information: Ricardo Cruz-Acuña et al. “Synthetic hydrogels for human intestinal organoid generation and colonic wound repair”, Nature Cell Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncb3632

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