Organoids as host models

    We use 3D organoids as host models to study pathogenesis. For this, we make use of the regenerative capacity of the human stomach: the epithelium that lines the human stomach renews itself every 4-5 days and the stem cells that fuel this constant need for new cells reside in the tissue itself. Once put into culture, the stem cells self-organize into 3-dimensional structures called organoids. When human gastric organoids are infected with the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori, they mount a strong inflammatory response that depends on the cell types present in the organoids.

    Fig. 1: The growth of a human gastric organoid from a single stem cell

    Gastric infections and cancer

    Gastric cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths and accounts for 720.000 deaths worldwide every year. A large part of these cases can be attributed to infections with one of two pathogens: Helicobacter pylori and Epstein Barr Virus. Currently, it is not well understood, how the two pathogens cause cancer and why some patients develop cancer, while others remain healthy. Using human gastric organoids from patient tissue, we study the effect of gastric pathogens on the epithelial cells. This will help in the future to better identify risk factors and develop new therapies.