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FEATURE NEWS

MEDICAL HISTORY IS MADE
Researchers make first working
"lab grown" kidney

April 15, 2013




This rat kidney was grown in a lab.
(NATIONAL) -- In what may be one of the major medical breakthroughs of the century scientists in the United States have "engineered" a functioning, lab grown kidney that has been transplanted into animals where it has stated to produce urine.

The breakthrough is reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Although similar processes have been used to make simple body parts, the kidney is a complex body organ and this marks the first time such a complex organ has been created in the lab and transplanted to a living organism where it began working as a normal kidney.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital took a rat kidney and used a type of detergent to wash away old cells and then the remaining product, a web of proteins, blood vessels and drainage pipes was used to pump the correct cells to the right part of the kidney, where they joined with the intricate web to rebuild the organ.

Human kidneys, which filter the blood to remove waste and excess water, are the most in-demand organ for transplants and there are often long waiting lists.

With this rudimentary breakthrough researchers envision the day where a laboratory can take an old kidney, strip from it all its old cells to leave a basic, honeycomb-like scaffold of an organ which would then be "rebuilt" with cells taken from the patient.

Such a process would have major advantages over current organ transplants including the fact that the tissue would be a prefect match with the patient so that the patient would not need to take drugs for the remainder of life to suppress the immune system to prevent rejection.

The process would also greatly increase the number of organs available for transplant.

Even though the experiment in the rat showed that kidney function, once the kidney was transplanted into the animal, was only 5% as effective as a normal kidney in filtering blood, the lead researcher in the study, Dr Harald Ott, told the BBC that restoring even just a small fraction of normal function could be enough adding, "If you're on haemodialysis then kidney function of 10% to 15% would already make you independent of haemodialysis. It's not that we have to go all the way."

He said the potential for this organ generating process process was huge because in the U.S. alone there’s 100,000 patients currently waiting for kidney transplants yet there is only about 18,000 transplants being done a year.

More research is needed before the process could be attempted on humans. More on the story is here





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