Researchers Develop Fully Functional Kidney Tissue Complete with Blood Vessels

Researchers Develop Fully Functional Kidney Tissue Complete with Blood Vessels

A regenerative medicine project conducted by a team of researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Leiden University Medical Centre, and the University of Melbourne has made great strides toward the development of a lab-grown kidney using stem cells.

In Australia, there has been a 6% annual rise in chronic kidney disease and there are expected to be 1 in 20 Australians diagnosed with chronic kidney disease by 2020, yet only one in four receive kidney transplants. An alternative to renal replacement has potential to save many thousands of lives. Now there is hope that a viable alternative to transplantation could be just around the corner.

The researchers successfully grew fully functional kidney tissue in the lab using stem cells. While the organoids are only small, there is hope that the process could be scaled up to create sufficient quantities of tissue to make it possible to create a fully functional kidney that could be used as an alternative to renal replacement.

The technique was first used in 2015 and has since been adopted by researchers the world over; however, while the researchers have managed to create the tissue in a culture dish with all the appropriate cell types, the tissue has not yet been matured to the stage where a blood vessel system has developed.

By transplanting the tissue into mice and placing it under the protective layer surrounding the kidney, the tissue did become vascularized. Four weeks after transplantation the human kidney organoid was observed to have formed connections with the blood vessels of the mouse kidney akin to those seen in fully developed kidney tissue.

While there is still considerable work required before the technique can be used to create sufficient quantities of the tissue for treatment for chronic kidney disease, the researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to create tissue that will function when transplanted, which is an important step toward the development of a fully functional lab-grown human kidney.

The research is detailed in the paper – Renal Subcapsular Transplantation of PSC-Derived Kidney Organoids Induces Neo-vasculogenesis and Significant Glomerular and Tubular Maturation In Vivo – recently published in Stem Cell Reports.

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