Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Growing Kidneys In The Lab May End Transplant Waitlist

This could change the way we get kidneys for donations. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted — and needed — organ. Although they are one of the few organs you can receive from a live donor, people still die after long waits for a viable kidney. However, in a new study, researchers from the Salk Institute in California figured out a way to grow unlimited kidney cells in a lab — a finding that could someday address the lack of kidney donors, and also allow us to more accurately study kidney diseases.

The Salk researchers successfully created nephron progenitor cells, a type of human kidney precursor cell that can differentiate into kidney tissue. Usually these cells only exist in humans during a brief stage in embryonic development, and attempts to create this cell in a laboratory have failed as the cell either died or gradually lost its usefulness by advancing past the precursor state. Having a steady supply of these cells could help scientists someday grow functional organs in a lab.

"We provide a proof-of-principle for how to make and maintain unlimited numbers of precursor kidney cells," Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and study co-author, said in a recent statement. Continue reading
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