Recently developed cell culture protocols have allowed for the derivation of multi-cellular structures dubbed intestinal "organoids" from embryonic stem cells (ESCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), and adult intestinal stem cells (ISCs). These structures resemble in vivo intestinal crypts, both in structure and developmental processes, and can be grown quickly and in relatively large quantities. Although much research has focused on developing intestinal organoids for tissue repair, more immediate applications include high-throughput screening for agents that target intestinal epithelium. Here we describe current methods for deriving mouse and human intestinal organoids and discuss some applications aimed at developing novel therapies or preventive agents for diseases of the lower GI tract such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.
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