A revolution in bioengineering has recently taken place with the successful transplantation of intestines grown from human stem cells. So far only tested on rats, the results show that the artificially grown internal organs function almost as well as the real thing.
Why is this important? There are several conditions which lead to the need for an intestine transplant. Perhaps the most well known is Crohn's disease, in which some varieties cause the colon to be shortened. In any case, the intestines are responsible for the uptake of nutrients from the food which has been chemically broken down in the stomach. Because of the intense acid pH of the stomach output, and the necessity to absorb the correct molecules from this, the structure of the intestine is very complex.
Stem cells, as you may know, are those cells which have not yet been biologically instructed to become one of the many specialist cells within the body. By using biochemical processes it is possible to create stem cells and then cause them to become the type of specialist cell we require. This process has been in research phases for many years, and it is a modern technology still in the testing process.
Taking this into future steps, the age of growing new organs is drawing closer. Perhaps it will not be long until human organ donation is something from the past. However, until this day finally dawns, human organ donation is the only way to help save lives if we are unfortunate enough to lose our own.
Read the scientific write-up of the new rat intestine experiment here.
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