Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gut stem cell secrets

A new study from University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that adult stem cells can reshape our organs in response to changes in the body and the environment. The findings could have implications in the therapeutic use of stem cells for treatment of different gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
Our current understanding has been that, once embryonic stem cells mature into adult stem cells, they sit quietly in our tissues, replacing cells that die or are injured but doing little else.But in working with fruit flies, the researchers found that intestinal stem cells responded to increased food intake by producing more intestinal cells, expanding the size of the intestines as long as the food keeps flowing. Just as in humans and other mammals, the fly intestine secretes its own insulin. In flies, intestinal insulin seems to be the signal that makes stem cells “supersize the gut.” This discovery may hold a key to understanding how human organs adapt to environmental change.
Human intestines regrow after portions have been surgically removed because of cancer or injury, and hibernating animals see their intestines shrink to one-third their normal size during winter. Stem cells can divide either asymmetrically, producing one stem cell and one intestinal cell, or symmetrically, producing two stem cells. The team found that, in response to food, intestinal stem cells underwent symmetric division more frequently than asymmetric division, which had the effect of maintaining the proportion of stem cells to intestinal cells, and is a more efficient way of ramping up the total number of cells.
Upkeep of the intestinal lining is metabolically expensive, consuming up to 30 percent of the body’s energy resources. By minimizing intestinal size when food is scarce, and maximizing digestive capacity when food is abundant, adaptive intestinal resizing by stem cells helps animals survive in constantly changing environments.

Diabetes could soon be a thing of the past

1 comment:

The wacky scientist said...

UPDATE: A new study from the University of Illinois has found that treating a Type 1 diabetic’s T-Cells with human cord blood stem cells may be a possible cure – helping restart the pancreatic function and insulin production.
There the T-cells were exposed to cord blood stem cells for three hours. The stem cells “re-educated the T-cells. Then the T-cells were pumped back into the participants’ blood. The patients were then checked four times after the treatment at four weeks, then 12, 24 and 40 weeks later.

The patients couldn’t make any insulin before the treatment. But after the treatment they began to make their own insulin. Their autoimmune response was reversed. One year later, the patients who got the treatment continue to manufacture some of their own insulin and eight have reduced their insulin shots by about 38 per cent.