Regenerative Medicine Research -- Kidney Project Early Milestone

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June 21, 2012

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Regenerative medicine researchers at Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center have reached
an early milestone in a long-term project that
aims to build replacement kidneys in the lab
to help solve the shortage of donor organs.

In proof-of-concept research published online
ahead of print in Annals of Surgery, the team
successfully used pig kidneys to make "scaf-
folds" or support structures that could poten-
tially one day be used to build new kidneys
for human patients.

The idea is to remove all animal cells -- leaving
only the organ structure or "skeleton." A patient's
own cells would then be placed on the scaffold,
making an organ that the patient theoretically
would not reject.

While this is one of the first studies to assess
the possibility of using whole pig kidneys to
engineer replacement organs, the idea of using
organ structures from pigs to help human patients
is not new. Pig heart valves -- removed of cells --
have been used for more than three decades to
provide heart valve replacements in human

"It is important to identify new sources of trans-
plantable organs because of the critical shortage
of donor organs," ... "These kidneys maintain
their innate three-dimensional architecture, as
well as their vascular system, and may represent
the ideal platform for kidney engineering."

.... "There are many challenges to be met before
this system could be used to engineer replace-
ment kidneys, including problems with blood
clots forming in the vessels," ... "The kidney is
a very complex organ with at least 22 different
cell types."

.... While the project is in its infancy, the idea
represents a potential solution to the extreme
shortage of donor kidneys. According to the
authors, the probability in the U.S. of receiving
a kidney transplant within five years of being
added to the waiting list is less than 35 percent.
As of late August 2011, nearly 90,000 patients
in the U.S. were waiting for kidney transplants.

The science of regenerative medicine has already
had success engineering skin, cartilage, bladders,
urine tubes, trachea and blood vessels in the lab
that were successfully implanted in patients. ...
However, the "holy grail" of regenerative medicine
is to engineer more complex organs such as the
kidney, liver, heart and pancreas.

These organs are very dense with cells and must
have their own oxygen supply to survive. This
need for a scaffold with a full vasculature is why
scientists are exploring the possibility of removing
cells from donor organs and replacing them with
a patient's own cells.

Scientists have already used scaffolds from rodents
or pigs to engineer heart, liver, lung and intestinal
scaffolds. When re-populated with organ-specific
cells, these "organoids" were able to produce some
of the functions of native organs in the lab. The goal
of the current study is to produce kidney scaffolds
from the pig because of similarities to humans in
terms of organ structure and size.

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Pro-Humanist FREELOVER
C.ure I.nsulinitis A.ssociation
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