Medical Science Breakthrough! First Functioning Kidney Tissue Has Been Produced.
Medical science has reached an exciting new milestone this month, when scientists were able to successfully produce human kidney tissue within a living organism. Not just any kidney tissue, though — this is FUNCTIONING kidney tissue with the ability to produce urine. This is widely regarded as a significant breakthrough in the path to creating treatments for kidney disease, as ScienceDaily reports.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and Kidney Research UK, and lead by Professors Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf from the University of Manchester. The results were recently published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
How'd They Do That?
Kidney glomeruli (microscopic parts of the organ) were created from human embryonic stem cells, grown in a laboratory setting using a culture medium that contained molecules promoting kidney development. These were combined with a gel-like substance (to mimic natural connective tissues), and the mixture was then injected under the skin of mice.
Three months later
After a 90-day wait, the team examined the tissues and found that nephrons — the core structural and functional feature of the kidney — had developed. These tissue samples included most of the nephrons found in humans, including proximal tubules, distal tubules, Bowmans capsule, and Loop of Henle. In addition, small human capillaries had developed inside the mice, providing nourishment to the new kidney tissues.
These new tissues lacked a key component, however — they did not develop a large artery, without which the organ will only function at a fraction of what would normally be expected. The researchers are working with surgeons to work on adding an artery to bring more blood to the kidney tissue.
When tested, it was determined that the tissue was functioning as kidney cells — the structure was filtering blood and producing urine, a medical first.
While this is a significant step that certainly proves the concept, there is important research still to come. Scientists hope to build upon this breakthrough by determining an exit route for the urine that is produced, and from there, a way to deliver this technology to diseased kidneys.
Further Reading and Reference
Ioannis Bantounas, Parisa Ranjzad, Faris Tengku, Edina Silajdi, Duncan Forster, Marie-Claude Asselin, Philip Lewis, Rachel Lennon, Antonius Plagge, Qi Wang, Adrian S. Woolf, Susan J. Kimber. Generation of Functioning Nephrons by Implanting Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Kidney Progenitors. Stem Cell Reports, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.01.008
University of Manchester. "Scientists create functioning kidney tissue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180209112402.htm.
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