Intestinal Organoids – An important advancement in the way we study intestinal and adult stem cell biology

By on March 23, 2015
Expert Session Summaries

We recently finished our Ask the Expert discussion on Using Intestinal Organoids for Intestinal and Stem Cell Research. This week we had many great questions and useful suggestions on issues including culture medium, growth, passaging, culturing techniques, the use of antibiotics, and recommendations in matrix selection and vessels. We also discussed the impact to animal testing, drug development, and personalized medicine.

This Ask the Expert Session was Sponsored by STEMCELL Technologies and hosted by Ryan Conder, Senior Scientist at STEMCELL Technologies. Ryan is a Senior Scientist with the Epithelial Cell Biology team at STEMCELL Technologies. He is responsible for products relating to 3D intestinal organoid culture, including IntestiCult™ Organoid Growth Medium (Mouse). Prior to joining STEMCELL Technologies, Ryan investigated the mechanisms of asymmetric cell division in the adult intestine with Juergen Knoblich at the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

As an in vitro system that is capable of providing in vivo insight, intestinal organoids signify an exciting new chapter for research in these fields. More details about this culture system and its research applications can be found in our previous post, Intestinal Organoid Culture: A Convenient and Physiologically Relevant Model for Intestinal and Stem Cell Research.

Check out this interesting discussion. Below is a sneak peek, for a full transcript, please see – Ask the Expert – Using Intestinal Organoids for Intestinal and Stem Cell Research.


We use our own homemade medium that is based on the recipe published by Toshiro Sato and Hans Clevers (Sato et al., 2009). What is different about the IntestiCult medium – what’s in it?

The Answer:

IntestiCult™ Organoid Growth Medium (Mouse) is an optimized version of the published medium (1), and has been developed in collaboration with Hans Clevers and The HUB Foundation for Organoid Technology. STEMCELL Technologies is the exclusive manufacturer and worldwide distributor of this complete, defined and serum-free medium for mouse intestinal organoids. The optimized recipe allows for less variability and standardized experiments as conditioned media is not required.

(1) Sato T, et al. Nature 459: 262-265, 2009


Culture medium for colonic organoids differs from that for small intestinal organoids (e.g. Wnt3a growth factor). Does your medium contain these extra growth factors, or do they need to be added separately? Also, does the described isolation protocol differ between small intestinal and colon organoids?

The Answer:

Indeed the culture of colon crypts differs from that of the small intestine. We have found that IntestiCult™ Organoid Growth Medium (Mouse) works on both tissues. In the primary culture, the efficiency of cultured colon crypts that grow into mature organoids may not be as high as the efficiency of the small intestinal cultures, but it does increase upon passaging. The described isolation protocol works well with the exception of substituting the dissection of the colon rather than small intestine.


In terms of using this in drug discovery/testing, how difficult would it be for a team of cell culture scientists with minimal experience in working with stem cells to get this up and running?

The Answer:

Both the detailed procedure and IntestiCult™ Organoid Growth Medium (Mouse) have been designed with that thought in mind. The step-by-step manual is easy to follow and the robustness of the medium allows for a bit of a “learning curve”. Although mastering any new skill takes some practice, the time to get “up and running” with organoid cultures should be very quick, and usually achievable during the first attempt. Good luck!

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