Regenerative medicine researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have addressed a major challenge in the quest to build replacement kidneys in the lab.
Working with human-sized pig kidneys, the scientists developed the most successful method to date to keep blood vessels in the new organs open and flowing with blood. The work is reported in journal Technology.
“Until now, lab-built kidneys have been rodent-sized and have functioned for only one or two hours after transplantation because blood clots developed,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director and professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a senior author on the study. “In our proof-of-concept study, the vessels in a human-sized pig kidney remained open during a four-hour testing period. We are now conducting a longer-term study to determine how long flow can be maintained.”
If proven successful, the new method to more effectively coat the vessels with cells (endothelial) that keep blood flowing smoothly, could potentially be applied to other complex organs that scientists are working to engineer, including the liver and pancreas.
The current research is part of a long-term project to use pig kidneys to make support structures known as “scaffolds” that could potentially be used to build replacement kidneys for human patients with end-stage renal disease. Scientists first remove all animal cells from the organ – leaving only the organ structure or “skeleton.” A patient’s own cells would then be placed in the scaffold, making an organ that the patient theoretically would not reject.
The Latest on: Replacement kidneys
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The Latest on: Replacement kidneys
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