17 November 2016

Synthetic hydrogel is better than natural

Scientists have created a new gel for growing small human organs


Swiss scientists have synthesized a new hydrogel for growing reduced human organs that can be used in medical diagnostics and drug development. With the help of a synthetic gel, scientists have grown a small intestine. The study was published in the journal Nature (Gjorevski et al., Designer matrices for intestinal stem cell and organoid culture).

To grow an organ, stem cells are needed – immature undifferentiated cells that can turn into cells of any organs and tissues. To create an organ, stem cells obtained from a grown organ are placed in a special "natural" gel that mimics the natural environment of these cells in the body. It contains chemicals that promote the renewal of stem cells and their self-organization into certain organs.

Such gels have significant disadvantages. Firstly, due to the complexity of the composition of the mixture of natural ingredients, gels from batch to batch are not exactly the same, which leads to unpredictable results. Secondly, since the components of the gel are taken from natural sources (a living organism), the gel may contain pathogens and allergens, which limits the use of such organs in medicine. Scientists from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne have created a new nutrient medium that is devoid of these disadvantages.

The researchers synthesized a gel based on water and polyethylene glycol, a polymer used in many cosmetics. The composition of the new gel includes only synthetic components. Thus, scientists were able to fully control the composition of the medium from batch to batch, as well as understand which specific chemical compounds are responsible for different details of organ growth. The probability of pathogens has been minimized. With the help of a new gel, scientists have grown a mini-intestine from stem cells.

Intestinal organoids grown in synthetic hydrogel.
A snapshot from the EPFL press release Taking miniature organs from lab to clinic - VM.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  17.11.2016

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