Mini organs or organoids grown in the lab from, for example, stem cells, are a great means to study how tissues develop, and to test responses to substances added to the culture dish. Versions have now been created from many organ sources. But if your interest is in the small intestine with its complex structure, vasculature and movements, an organoid is less lifelike. Now researchers have taken the culture of miniature small intestine another step closer to the real thing. The team broke up an organoid grown from normal small intestine epithelial cells and put the cells into a microfluidics device (organ-on-a-chip technology), which incorporated a flexible mechanical membrane to emulate peristalsis – the gut’s waves of muscular contractions. Out grew tissue that had structures just like the small intestine’s characteristic villi projecting into an open lumen (pictured), and that could interact with a layer of intestinal vascular cells within the chip.
Written by Lindsey Goff
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