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Breakthrough for lab-grown kidney research

Monday February 12th, 2018

Laboratory generated human kidney tissue has successfully been implanted and grown in living organisms for the first time, British researchers have announced.

The tissue, grown in mice, is able to produce urine, researchers said.

Professor Adrian Woolf, of Manchester University, UK, leader of the research with Professor Sue Kimber, said he was “tremendously excited” by the discovery.

The researchers generated kidney glomeruli from human embryonic stem cells grown in laboratory culture dishes containing culture medium.

These were combined with a gel-like substance, which acted as natural connective tissue, and injected as a tiny clump under the skin of mice.

After three months, nephrons had formed, containing most of the constituent parts present in human nephrons, including proximal tubules, distal tubules, Bowman’s capsule and Loop of Henle.

Capillaries had also developed inside the mice, but they lacked a large artery, they write in the latest edition of Stem Cell Reports.

To test the structures’ functionality, the team used the fluorescent protein Dextran to track and detect tubules, thereby demonstrating that filtrate was being produced and excreted as urine.

Professor Kimber said: “We have proved beyond any doubt these structures function as kidney cells by filtering blood and producing urine - though we can’t yet say what percentage of function exists.

“What is particularly exciting is that the structures are made of human cells, which developed an excellent capillary blood supply, becoming linked to the vasculature of the mouse.

“Though this structure was formed from several hundred glomeruli, and humans have about a million in their kidneys, this is clearly a major advance. It constitutes a proof of principle- but much work is yet to be done.”

Professor Woolf said while the success of the research was very exciting, the next step was to develop an exit route for the urine and a way to deliver the technology to diseased kidneys.

The Medical Research Council and Kidney Research UK funded the project, which is supported by the University of Manchester’s School of Biological Sciences, Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network (MaRM), and Kidneys for Life.

Bantounas I, Ranjzad P, Tengku F. Generation of functioning nephrons by implanting human pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney progenitors. Stem Cell Reports 8 February 2018; doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.01.008 [abstract]

Tags: Internal Medicine | UK News

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