Growing Small-Scale Kidney Structures From Stem Cells

An example of early stage progress towards building new kidney tissue to replace aged or diseased kidneys, or for use in bioartificial kidney devices:

For the first time, [researchers] have generated three-dimensional kidney structures from human stem cells, opening new avenues for studying the development and diseases of the kidneys and to the discovery of new drugs that target human kidney cells. Scientists had created precursors of kidney cells using stem cells as recently as this past summer, but [this] team was the first to coax human stem cells into forming three-dimensional cellular structures similar to those found in our kidneys.

[The] findings demonstrate for the first time that pluripotent stem cells (PSCs)-cells capable of differentiating into the many cells and tissue types that make up the body-can made to develop into cells similar to those found in the ureteric bud, an early developmental structure of the kidneys, and then be further differentiated into three-dimensional structures in organ cultures. UB cells form the early stages of the human urinary and reproductive organs during development and later develop into a conduit for urine drainage from the kidneys. The scientists accomplished this with both human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), human cells from the skin that have been reprogrammed into their pluripotent state.

Link: http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=648

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