Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to briefly summarize the notable structures and pathways in intestinal epithelial growth before presenting the current main areas of active research in intestinal regeneration. As a rapidly advancing field, a number of breakthroughs have recently been made related to the culture of intestinal stem cells (ISCs) and to the engineering of intestinal tissue.
Recent findings: ISCs can be derived from fibroblasts and can be cultured in hydrogels under xenogeneic-free conditions. Intestinal organoids can be cultured with neural crest cells to form small intestinal tissues with neuromuscular networks. Endoluminal devices can be placed inside the native intestine to exert mechanical force to induce novel tissue growth.
Summary: A number of recent advances in the field of intestinal regeneration are encouraging and suggest that novel therapies for a wide range of intestinal disorders may be developed in the near future. There are still a number of obstacles before such stem cell therapies can be safely used in humans.