Georgia researcher finds new source of stem cells: the gut

A cell type with the potential for making the four major types of human tissue has been found in the stomach and small intestine by a Medical College of Georgia researcher. These VENT cells have been found in addition to the three sources of cells typically associated with gastrointestinal development, says Dr. Paul Sohal, MCG developmental biologist, who first identified these cells nearly a decade ago. Identification of VENT — ventrally emigrating neural tube — cells within the stomach and small intestine is another piece in Dr. Sohal’s effort to fully define and describe the cells that he first found migrating out from the neural tube of a chick embryo. If Dr. Sohal’s studies are on target, he’s found the first source of new cells identified in the embryo since 1868 and what might be the precursor for adult stem cells.