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Stem cells used to create 'fetal kidneys'

18 April 2011

By Dr Rosie Gilchrist

Appeared in BioNews 604

Scientists at Edinburgh University have grown kidney structures in the laboratory in a step they hope will lead to organs being grown for transplant patients from their own stem cells.

The researchers were able to reconstruct the complex structures that form a functional kidney by combining human stem cells (hSCs) extracted from amniotic fluid with mouse fetal kidney cells. They previously used a similar technique to grow nephrons, the structures in the kidney responsible for filtering products from the blood.

Using an improved method they were able to make nephrons that arranged themselves around a collecting duct, as in a normal kidney, where urine is then emptied into the bladder.

The team eventually hope to use a similar approach to create a complex functional organ. 'The idea is to start with human stem cells and end up with a functioning organ. We have made pretty good progress with that. We can make something that has the complexity of a normal, fetal kidney', said Professor Jamie Davies, whose team carried out the research.

The ability to grow kidneys from hSCs could help combat the shortage of donor kidneys. Statistics from the NHS show that in the last year around 2,500 people in the UK received a kidney transplant, compared with 7,000 on the waiting list. Growing an organ from an individual's own cells could also prevent the risk of rejection that arises when the body's immune system tries to fight a transplanted organ.

'We already know that stem cells that come from amniotic fluid are quite good at making kidneys', Davies said. 'At the moment we throw amniotic fluid away when babies are born. But if we kept it and froze down the stem cells of everybody born in the UK, there would be cells that could build kidneys waiting for them, frozen, in case they ever needed them'.

The research was published in the journal Organogenesis and Professor Davies will be talking about the work at the Edinburgh Science Festival next month. 

Metro | 10 April 2011
Herald Scotland | 11 April 2011
Daily Telegraph | 11 April 2011


28 January 2013 - by Michelle Downes 
In what is thought to be a first, stem cells have been used to generate human kidney tissue...
12 March 2012 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Stem cell therapy may remove the need for organ transplant recipients to have lifelong drug treatment to combat the risk of rejection, which would dramatically improve patients' quality of life...
10 October 2011 - by George Frodsham 
Scientists have found a new method of suppressing the automatic rejection of donated kidneys in transplant patients, by using the donor's stem cells. In a small trial carried out at Stanford University, California, eight out of 12 patients were able to stop taking anti-rejection drugs, which are usually a lifelong necessity, following this treatment....
12 September 2011 - by Daniel Malynn 
Presenter Liz Bonnin investigates stem cells, and their pioneering use in organ donation. Bonnin's introduction the segment covers briefly, but accurately, the 30 years worth of history of stem cell research, and the controversy around embryonic stem cell research...
11 July 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Surgeons have successfully transplanted a synthetic organ into a human for the first time. In a groundbreaking operation, a cancer patient's windpipe was replaced with an artificial replica that had been grown using his own stem cells....

11 April 2011 - by Dr Rachael Panizzo 
Embryonic stem cells have been used to generate a basic retina, the part of the eye that detects light and is needed for vision. The retinal tissue could be used to treat some forms of blindness, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, and to investigate and screen potential new drugs for a range of eye diseases....
18 June 2010 - by Rosemary Paxman 
Functional lab-grown livers could become a reality within 5-10 years, suggests a new study published by Nature Medicine, offering hope to liver transplant patients....
01 June 2010 - by Dr Tamara Hirsch 
For the first time scientists have regenerated a biological tooth within the oral cavity using stem cell development, suggesting a possible cheaper alternative to dentures or implants for adults who have lost some or all of their teeth....
12 April 2010 - by Charlie McDermott 
Stem cell-derived blood vessels grown in the lab could replace artificial versions currently used in heart bypass surgery, following a recent animal study...
22 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Human skin suitable for transplants has been grown from embryonic stem (ES) cells for the first time. The new technique, pioneered by researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Therapy and Exploration of Monogenic Diseases, Evry, France, may one day provide a source for life-saving skin replacements for people suffering from severe burns....

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