Alternative to animal experiments: new applications for organoids from human intestinal tissue
26 October 2020
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have cultured so-called intestinal organoids from human intestinal tissue, which is a common byproduct when performing bowel surgery. These small ‘miniature intestines’ can be used for molecular biological examinations and allow for a direct application of research results to humans, thereby making animal experiments redundant.
The human intestine is vital for both digestion and absorbing nutrients as well as drugs. For any type of research that involves intestines, scientists require research models that reflect the physiological situation inside human beings with the highest possible accuracy.
Standard cell lines and animal experiments have certain disadvantages. One main issue is the lack of applicability of the results to humans. Now, a multidisciplinary research team covering the areas of nutritional science, general medicine, and chemistry has demonstrated how a modern in vitro model — made from human intestinal biopsies — can answer various questions regarding the molecular processes inside the human gut.
“When studying diseases or performing drug screenings, it is critical to have access to a human test system such as human organoids in order to prevent obtaining species specific test results,” said Tamara Zietek, who is part of the Chair of Nutritional Physiology at TUM.
She added that, “over the course of the last few years, organoids have become one of the most promising in vitro models due to their high physiological relevance; they also present a human-based alternative method to animal experiments.”
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