[LISTEN] #NakedScientist: Very first lab-grown oesophagus implanted in mice

Scientists at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH), Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the Francis Crick Institute have grown a bio-engineered oesophagus and implanted it in mice.

This the first example of taking the food pipe that connects the back of your throat down to your stomach and making a new one of it by growing new cells on an old oesophagus.

The experiment will hopefully lead to clinical trials of lab-grown food pipes for children born with part of their oesophagus damaged or missing.

Naked Scientist Chris Smith explains the process.

What they did was to take an oesophagus from another animal, put it into a detergent solution and this removes all of the cells that are there and what that leaves behind is a scaffolding of the connective tissue.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

What they have done is to take this so-called decellularised oesophagus which is just the connective tissue and then they have added back to it new cells - stem cells taken from humans, cells from mice and lining cells from rats and they grow in an organ bath...

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

The way we think this work is that this scaffolding has signals on it which can direct the cells where to go and what to turn into when the cells mature.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Obviously it is a big step now to demonstrate that you can put food down this. Ultimately it will be can we do this in humans because there is a significant proportion of infants born with problems with their oesophagus.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Click on the link below to listen to the full feature...


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