Researchers in Japan said on Wednesday they have succeeded in growing human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time in a potential breakthrough for millions with damaged organs who are dependent on dialysis.
Kidneys have a complex structure that is not easily repaired once damaged, but the latest findings put scientists on the road to helping a diseased or distressed organ fix itself.
Kenji Osafune of Kyoto University said his team had managed to take stem cells — the “blank slates” capable of being programmed to become any kind of cell in the body — and nudge them specifically
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It raises hopes that kidney disease patients will one day be able to grow their own new organs with no risk of rejection.
Kidneys 5mm long – the size of those in foetuses – were made using a combination of cells from amniotic fluid, which surrounds babies in the womb, and animal foetal cells.
It is hoped the organs could be grown to maturity if implanted in a patient. In future, people’s amniotic fluid could be retained at birth, allowing it to be used later if they develop kidney disease.
‘The idea is to start with human
Researchers at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the Sackler School of Medicine in Israel have shown how the kidneys constantly grow and have surprising ability to regenerate themselves, overturning decades of accepted wisdom that such regeneration didn’t happen. It also opens a path toward new ways of repairing and even growing kidneys.
“These are basic findings that have direct implications for kidney disease and kidney regeneration,” says Yuval Rinkevich, PhD, the lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral scholar at the institute.
The findings were published online May 15 in Cell Reports.
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Kidney stem cells, according to some experts, could be able to repair kidney damage if used properly. The first researchers to identify the cells were scientists at the University of Florence, who published an article recently in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Giuseppe Remuzzi, the head of the Nephrology and Dialysis division of the United Hospitals of Bergamo recently spoke about their potential in Milan at the World Nephrology Congress.
“The truth about stem cells,” explained the expert, “ is what US President Barack Obama pointed out when he announced