NDT-EDUCATIONAL

Lab-Grown Kidney Transplanted Into Rats Produces Urine

US scientists have grown kidneys that produce rudimentary urine in the lab and also after being transplanted into rats. They hope to refine the approach so one day it is possible to grow human kidneys in the lab that work as well as donor kidneys in transplant patients but without the need for them to take drugs to suppress their immune system.

The unique approach does not grow a kidney totally from scratch but strips the cells from the old, failed kidney, leaving a 3D honeycomb scaffold of the correct shape, and then repopulates it with donor kidney and blood vessel cells to produce a new, working kidney.

This approach has already been used to bioengineer hearts, lungs and livers, but kidneys, which filter the blood to remove toxic waste products for elimination, are one of the most complex organs of the body, and this is the first time scientists have successfully bioengineered one that works.

The new study shows the lab-grown kidneys do not perform as well as original, healthy ones, but with refinement the approach shows great promise, say the researchers, who write about their work in a paper published online this week in Nature Medicine.

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