Doctors Create Large Intestine in Rats

Transplanted Tissue Shows Promise for Colon Cancer Patients

Aug. 6, 2003 -- Researchers say they have successfully grown functional large intestines in laboratory rats. Having the ability to create colon tissue through tissue engineering could have significant meaning for colon cancer patients who have had part of their colon removed.

Researchers transplanted colon cells from newborn and adult rats into the abdomens of other rats. After four weeks, colon cells successfully grew in all of the animals. The researchers showed that the transplanted, tissue-engineered colon was identical in structure and function to normal intestinal cells. In the end, there was no noticeable difference between the tissue-engineered colons and the donor colon tissue.

The findings appear in the July issue of Annals of Surgery.

Surgery to remove part of the colon is a common treatment for colon cancer. With further studies, tissue-engineered colon may be used to replace the large intestine in colon cancer patients.

SOURCE: Annals of Surgery, July 2003.