Due to the positive results achieved by the INTENS consortium, the European Commission has decided to publish an article on INTENS, which has been included in the “Success stories” section of the EC website.
In the article the latest results of the project are illustrated. The INTENS project focused on developing a strategy for autologous tissue engineering – or the process of treating an individual using their own cells or tissues. “The results we have achieved so far have surpassed all expectations,” remarks Prof. De Coppi.
An example of this strategy can be seen in the project’s construction of autologous jejunal mucosal grafts. “In other words, we used biomaterials from SBS paediatric patients to engineer living tissue of the lining found in the small intestine that could, in theory, be surgically transplanted,” explains De Coppi.
Researchers also discovered the similarities between the small intestine and colon scaffolds (i.e., the engineered materials used to form new functional tissues). According to De Coppi, this indicates that they could be interchangeably used as platforms for intestinal engineering. “This opens the door to using the residual colon as scaffolding in children who have lost their entire small bowel,” he says.
To support this finding, De Coppi and his team transplanted the colon scaffolds in vivo, demonstrating that they can survive to form short-term functional structures. “These findings provide proof-of-concept data for engineering patient-specific jejunal grafts for children with intestinal failure, ultimately restoring their nutritional autonomy,” adds De Coppi.
Another key outcome of the project was the conceptualisation for extrinsically guiding the self-organisation of stem cells into functional organoids-on-a-chip devices. “These devices are designed to model the functions of human organs in vitro and allow us to attain more physiologically relevant organoid shapes, sizes and functions,” notes De Coppi.
This project’s work will ultimately result in better treatment for SBS patients. “Not only will this make treatment much more affordable and accessible for SBS patients, it also has the potential to substantially improve their prognosis and their standard of life,” concludes De Coppi.
The team is currently working to advance these results towards commercialisation and clinical translation.
The article is available in 6 languages: https://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/article_en.cfm?&artid=54246.
Another article on INTENS has also been published on the CORDIS website: https://bit.ly/2PzDaCU.