Australian Researchers have managed to grow a mini-kidney in a laboratory, opening the possibility for powerful non-human clinical drug and therapy trials.
A team of researchers from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the University of Queensland identified the relevant developmental mechanism needed to grow kidney organoids, and mimicked the environment of the natural environment present during the development of kidney cells in the womb. The kidney was grown from human induced pluripotent stem cells.
In a letter published in Nature last Wednesday, the researchers stated that they had generated kidney organoids which “represent powerful models of the human organ for future applications, including nephrotoxicity screening, disease modelling and as a source of cells for therapy”.
"For us it's a pretty exciting advance," said stem cell biologist Melissa Little, of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
"This organ is making its own blood vessels, it's making its own tubules for filtering and cleaning the blood, so it's really a very complex structure," she said of the kidney, which was observed three weeks after creation.
She said the approach could be used for drug screening in as little as two years, potentially saving drug developers hundreds of millions of dollars. The kidney is one of the
organs typically poisoned by drugs, along with the liver and heart.
The procedure may present fewer ethical dilemmas than previous experiments attempting to grow human organs in other animals.
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