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Collaborative Success Stories: A New Culture

Petri dish and dropper

University of Missouri researcher Dr. Lane Clarke has developed the world’s first culture for intestinal crypts.

When working properly, intestinal glands called “crypts” aid in the digestion of food. However, serious illnesses like Crohn’s disease and Cystic Fibrosis can impair the function of crypts, resulting in disease manifestations. With many diseases, scientists are able to test various treatments in vitro—that is, with cells grown in an artificial culture. Unfortunately, before Clarke stepped in, no one had successfully cultured intestinal tissues for use in medicine.

Clarke suspected that recent breakthroughs in intestinal stem cell culture could be adapted to study the pathophysiology of intestinal disease in vitro. He turned to Mizzou Advantage facilitator Carolyn Henry for suggestions. Henry brought a group to the table that included researchers from pharmacology, physiology and veterinary pathobiology.

Clarke and his colleagues validated an in vitro crypt model for research, putting MU at the forefront of regenerative medicine. Their work was published in the American Journal of Physiology, and the results enabled Clarke to secure more than $1.5 million from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for additional research at MU.

Dr. Lane Clarke is professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and operates a laboratory at MU’s Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine