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David Plaut: Off the Cuff

Regenerative Medicine Strategies

Published December 16, 2013 1:11 PM by David Plaut

Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and unsolved health issue worldwide. The kidneys rarely recover function once they are damaged by disease, highlighting the urgent need for better knowledge of kidney development and physiology.  

Recently, scientists have grown human stem cells into early-stage kidney structures responsible for reabsorbing water after toxins have been filtered out. In the laboratory, mouse embryonic kidney cells were used to coax the human stem cells to grow into the embryonic mushroom-shaped buds. This work is a major step in developing regenerative techniques for growing replacement human kidneys.

Now, a team of researchers led by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has developed a novel platform to study kidney diseases, opening new avenues for the future application of regenerative medicine strategies to help restore kidney function.

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 the Salk team was the first to coax human stem cells into forming three-dimensional cellular structures similar to those found in our kidneys. Source November 17, 2013 in Nature Cell Biology and the Salk Institute.

posted by David Plaut

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