Biologists for the first time raised the esophagus from stem cells

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. American molecular biologists were first able to get stem cells to turn into a miniature analogue of the esophagus. This opens the way for its restoration after diseases, cancer or accidents, according to a paper published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

«These miniature organs will help us not only to understand how there are different congenital defects of the esophagus and a variety of autoimmune diseases and cancer, but will allow to grow cell cultures and tissue samples for repair of the esophagus in selected patients,» said Jim wells (Jim Wells) from the University of Cincinnati (USA).

Over the past two decades, biologists have learned how to turn stem cells into tissues of bones, muscles, skin and nervous system. Such fabrics can become «spare parts» in case of damage to the body or a cure for a number of degenerative diseases. For example, the culture of «stem» neurons could be a panacea for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and different versions will help restore lost limbs or organs.

In particular, in April 2012, scientists managed to turn stem cells in hair follicles and successfully transplant them on the back of hairless mice. Three years ago, Japanese scientists collected full copy of the various organs, such as kidneys or liver, from stem cells, and raised the leg of a rat and «connected» it to the body of the rodent. All of these experiments, while conducted on animals, but in the coming years, similar experiments will begin in the human cells.

Wells and his colleagues added to the number of these bodies and a full copy of the esophagus, experimenting with different varieties «reprogrammed» stem cells and embryos of rodents and frogs.

Despite the relatively simple device, scientists for a very long time could not get the stem cells to turn into the equivalent of the tissues of the esophagus, as it is hampered by the fact that the same calf are used by the embryo for «construction» of the trachea.

The authors of the article have discovered how this can be avoided by watching what genes turn on and off during the development of the esophagus and trachea in the embryos of animals. It turned out that a key role in this process was played by the gene Sox2 is one of four DNA segments that are currently used by biologists for «reprogramming» of stem cells.

As it turned out, the activity of the gene determines which type of fabrics turn into «blanks» of the esophagus and trachea within the embryos of frogs and mice. For example, if Sox2 were included, they formed a tissue of the digestive system, and when it is disconnected became a part of the respiratory system.

Armed with this idea, wells and his colleagues were able to turn a set of stem cells in a miniature analogue of the esophagus, growing them in a special chemical environment that contributed to the inclusion of Sox2 and other genes, for about two months.

These mini-organs as the scientists, are not suitable for implantation in the human body, but can be used to study how different mutations affect the development of the esophagus, and the production of patches for the treatment of individual patients using their own stem cells.

Both, according to biologists, will save dozens of lives and will allow to abandon the use of potentially dangerous implants on the basis of polymer scaffolds, which are seeded today «adult» cells of the esophagus and inserted into the body of patients.