Scientists at the University of Manchester have achieved what may be a major step in the treatment of renal disease by developing working kidney tissue in the laboratory.
The breakthrough was announced by Professors Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf, with the findings being published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
Material from human stem cells was combined with a gel-like substance designed to bind tissue, then injected into mice. After three months the functional units of kidneys were found to have successfully grown.
Professor Kimber said: "We have proved beyond any doubt these structures function as kidney cells by filtering blood and producing urine – though we can’t yet say what percentage of function exists."
The one element missing for a functional liver was the absence of a large artery to supply sufficient blood, making this the next challenge in the quest to create artificially-grown kidneys.
This research may eventually pave the way for complete human kidneys to be grown outside the human body using cells from renal disease sufferers, enabling healthy organs to be developed that can then be transplanted.
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