(Medical Xpress)—University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using stem cells.
University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using stem cells.
The breakthrough paves the way for improved treatments for patients with kidney disease and bodes well for the future of the wider field of bioengineering organs.
Professor Melissa Little from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), who led the study, said new treatments for kidney disease were urgently needed.
"One in three Australians is at risk of developing chronic kidney disease and the only therapies currently available are kidney transplant and dialysis," Professor Little said.
"Only one in four patients will receive a donated organ, and dialysis is an ongoing and restrictive treatment regime.
"We need to improve outcomes for patients with this debilitating condition, which costs Australia $1.8 billion a year."
The team designed a protocol that prompts stem cells to form all the required cell types to 'self-organise' into a mini-kidney in a dish.
"During self-organisation, different types of cells arrange themselves with respect to each other to create the complex structures that exist within an organ, in this case, the kidney," Professor Little said.
"The fact that such stem cell populations can undergo self-organisation in the laboratory bodes well for the future of tissue bioengineering to replace damaged and diseased organs and tissues."