Kidney Tissue Grown in Lab Could Boost Transplants

Discovery News

Scientists said Wednesday they had grown rudimentary human kidney tissue from stem cells, a key step towards the Holy Grail of fully functional, lab-made transplant organs.

The tissue is not a viable organ, but may be useful for other purposes such as replacing animals in drug toxicity tests, the team said.

The researchers from Australia and the Netherlands grew their "kidney-like structure" from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells -- adult cells reprogrammed into a neutral state from which they can be coaxed to develop into other cell types.

Given the critical shortage of donor organs to replace those damaged by accident or disease, it has long been a goal of science to create human organs from stem cells.

But it is a complicated task. Scientists need to prompt stem cells to become kidney, liver or lung cells, which must then recreate the complex anatomy of a real organ in order to function in a human recipient.

The first part of this chain has proved most challenging, especially in organs composed of a multitude of different cell types. The kidney, for example, has more than 20.

In the new study, published in the journal Nature, the team managed to transform iPS cells into two different adult cell types. Continue reading

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