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The use of gut #organoids as a host-microbe interactions model

Published: 30-09-2014

A model system to investigate the effects of certain bacteria on the intestine is indeed proving very usable suggests a recent scientific publication by Dr. Guus Roeselers and his team in the TNO Microbiology & Systems Biology group in collaboration with Wageningen University.

TNO Microbiology & Systems Biology is trying to help the food industry to develop new products and ingredients that have a favourable effect on the intestinal microbiota (intestinal flora).

Animal testing unnecessary
The Hubrecht Laboratory in Utrecht has developed a method to isolate a specific type of stem cell from the intestines of mice and, later, also humans. Using specific growth factors in the laboratory, these stem cells can grow into kind of mini-intestines, or organoids. In 2012 Dr. Guus Roeselers and his team in the Microbiology & Systems Biology group began developing an organoid-based model system that can be used to test the interactions between microorganisms and their hosts without the need to test it on animals. This organoid model can thus also significantly accelerate the time-to-market for new food products.

Intestinal bacteria very influential
Currently, Roeselers and his colleagues are also investigating human and pig organoids. The human intestine contains more microorganisms than human cells so these intestinal flora – or microbiota as they are known nowadays – have a significant impact on our wellbeing and health. Recent years have revealed an increasing number of diseases to be related to the composition of the intestinal microbiota. For instance, there appears to be more to obesity sufferers than excess eating and a lack of exercise. The microbiota composition could prompt some people to gain weight faster than others. Links can also be made with colon cancer and auto-immune diseases like IBD and diabetes type 1.’

The article appeared in Augustus in the open-access journal Mbio.