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Building pancreatic organoids to aid drug development
  1. Edgar S Wills,
  2. Joost P H Drenth
  1. Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joost P H Drenth, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Radboud University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9101, Code 455, Nijmegen 6500 HB, The Netherlands; Joostphdrenth{at}

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Comment on: gutjnl-2016-312423 ‘Human pluripotent stem cell-derived acinar/ductal organoids generate human pancreas upon orthotopic transplantation and allow disease modelling’

Much of our understanding of human diseases comes from the study of model systems such as cell lines. Cell lines are derived from cells that have obtained the property to proliferate indefinitely, often by immortalisation or isolation from cancerous tissues. They have the great advantage that they are easy to work with and can be kept in culture almost endlessly. The disadvantage is that they have lost the genetic signature of healthy primary cells, thwarting the interpretation of test results. This has led to the search for human cell systems that accurately recapitulate healthy or diseased human primary tissues. Advances in stem cell technology have made it possible to create, maintain and expand induced or adult stem cells while they retain multilineage potential. This has led to the development of the so-called organoids, which are defined as a three-dimensional (3D) cellular cluster derived exclusively from primary tissue, embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Organoids are capable of self-renewal and self-organisation into multiple types of differentiated cells, while maintaining the phenotype of the original tissue. In view of these advantageous properties, organoids have been generated for many of the GI tissues, particularly colon and liver, and also stomach.1 ,2 Pancreatic organoids (POs) have gone through a long developmental phase and have recently matured to their first practical application. Starting with the discovery that …

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  • Contributors ESW and JPHD contributed to the choice and development of the concepts expressed in this paper. ESW drafted the paper; JPHD worked on subsequent versions.

  • Competing interests ESW is supported by a grant of the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS) at Radboudumc.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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