In this issue, we are casting the REPROCELL Tissue Spotlight on the INTESTINES.
The intestines (large and small) are vital organs in the gastrointestinal tract of our digestive system. Comprising a winding muscular tube extending from the stomach to the anus the main purpose is to digest food and absorb nutrients. The intestines also have a key role to play in the processes of cellular messaging, fighting infection and in regulating the body’s water balance.
Of the two intestines, the small intestine (consisting of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum) is smaller in diameter but longer in length with a convoluted inner surface that provides a massive surface area for absorbing nutrients. The duodenum, in conjunction with excretions from the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, continues the digestion of food initiated by the stomach, whilst the jejunum and ileum provide the main areas for absorption of nutrients back into the blood stream. The large intestine (cecum, colon, rectum and anal canal regions) receives and processes residual matter (faeces) from the small intestine. Water and vitamins released from the fermentation of faeces by bacteria living within the intestine are absorbed by the smooth muscle layer ensuring maximal retention of nutrients.
Disruption of the digestive process in any region can lead to disease. Digestive diseases encompass more than 40 acute and chronic conditions of the whole gastrointestinal tract ranging from mild disease e.g., constipation, to more serious conditions such as bowel cancer. More than 34 million Americans have a digestive disease, 20 million of whom are diagnosed with a chronic disorder. Common chronic conditions involving the intestines include Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which together affect over 2 million people in the US alone. Improving our understanding of these disorders and developing new effective treatments is critical as they impose a large negative impact on the global health care system in addition to reducing quality of life for sufferers.
REPROCELL have developed a range of services to facilitate the investigation of intestinal disease and the development of new effective treatments.
The REPROCELL Tissue Network
Sourcing fresh human tissue for research can often be problematic. Here at REPROCELL, we have developed an ethically-sourced Human Tissue Network that provides high-quality human tissues to support all areas of research, including drug discovery and development. Through the combination of our extensive Biorepository and our Prospective Tissue Collection capabilities, we can provide a comprehensive solution to most tissue needs.
From our global network we can access fresh healthy and diseased (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis) intestinal tissue from various surgical interventions. Such tissue provides a rich source of mucosal and smooth muscle layers for use in our extensive range of gastrointestinal assays supporting drug discovery and development. Intestinal tissue is collected to our strict specifications and associated clinical data collected to enable optimal data interpretation.
REPROCELL Assays and Services
To complement our Tissue Network, REPROCELL provide several assays utilising intestinal tissue that can facilitate both investigative research and the drug development process. Our assays can be used to assess the efficacy of a novel compound or determine any safety/adverse effects.
❖ Gut Motility
Our organ bath-based system is a useful tool to measure gut motility. Muscle strips (circular or longitudinal) can be mounted in our organ bath systems and concentration response curves determined following application of control or test compounds.
❖ Gut Permeability
Via a Ussing Chamber system we can measure levels of gut permeability. Application of test drugs to the apical surface of intestinal tissue and subsequent sampling from both the apical and basolateral compartments allows the passage of the test drug and any metabolites to be measured. Unlike some systems, our assays use fresh intestinal tissue providing more biologically relevant estimates of permeability and bioavailability.
❖ Inflammatory Response
Inflammation of the mucosa is a defining feature of many intestinal disorders including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. We can use both non-diseased and diseased intestinal tissue in our ex-vivo culture model to measure effects on the inflammatory response. In a pre-defined culture system, production of cytokines, or other endogenous mediators can be measured at baseline level and in response to test compounds.
❖ Ion Channel Function
Ion channel function is measured using the Ussing Chamber system. Intestinal mucosal layers are mounted in the system and the movement of ions measured via changes in the short-circuit current.
If you have an interest in intestinal research or in developing novel compounds for the treatment of intestinal disease, then REPROCELL is your ideal research partner.
Karen McAulay, Ph.D.
Clinical Alliance Manager, REPROCELL