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Lab Engineered Kidney Performs Well in Rat

Update Date: Apr 15, 2013 10:44 AM EDT

Researchers and scientists have repeatedly worked on genetically engineering organs in the lab that can be successfully implanted into humans. Due to the controversy behind stem cell research, ways of manufacturing organs have been limited. However, scientists have created smaller organs, such as human ears, effectively, and according to a new research study, the creation of working kidneys might be within the near future. The researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine announced that they have created a kidney that was able to produce urine like any other kidneys when implanted into a rat.

The researchers combined their knowledge and available research on organ recreation in order to create this working kidney. Although the kidney was not entirely made from scratch since the researchers took an already working kidney mold or scaffold, getting it to work in a rat was a huge step in research. The researchers first removed the kidneys from rats and removed all living cells from the organ via a detergent solution. They then placed the kidney with the use of human umbilical cord cells and newborn rat kidney cells over the scaffold. The cells were then distributed into the right areas of the kidney's scaffold through a pressure gradient. The result was then placed into chambers that provided the nutrients needed to help the organ grow. After it grew to the right size, the kidney was placed into a rat that had the kidney removed in the first place, and the researchers discovered that the bioengineered kidney worked.

"If this technology can be scaled to human-sized grafts, patients suffering from renal failure who are currently waiting for donor kidneys, or who are not transplant candidates, could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells," Dr. Harald Ott, study researcher, stated. He added that these kinds of kidneys could increase the risk for rejection from the body as well.

The researchers also stressed that the bioengineered kidney did not perform as effectively as a real kidney despite being able to produce urine and filter blood. The researchers aim to perfect the kidney first in rats before looking into human kidneys. However, due to the fact that this method is technically not from scratch, kidney donors would still be needed if this method proved to be effective in humans. Since this method kills the kidney's living cells, kidney donors would be easier to match.

The study was published in Nature Medicine.

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