Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Gut Feeling - RESEARCH
Some scientists call it our ‘second brain’. It comprises around 100 million nerve cells, ensures we get all the nourishment we need, and even affects our mood. This ‘brain’ is actually a network of nerves called the enteric nervous system, which controls our gut. Loss of these nerves results in a group of diseases called enteric neuropathies. The consequences on the body are severe: poor nutrition, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Researchers now use mice to investigate the potential of stem cells in replacing these lost nerves. Stem cells, called enteric neural crest cells (ENCCs), were implanted into the guts of normal mice (pictured) and mice lacking gut nerves. ENCCs (green/yellow) integrated into the guts of both types of mice, did not cause tumours, and developed into nerves that appeared functional when stimulated electrically. This is the first step towards future therapies in humans.
Image from work by Julie E Cooper and colleagues
Story via BPoD