Scientists create artificial kidney

Tuesday 16th April 2013
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Scientists in the US have claim to have 'grown' a working artificial kidney capable of being transplanted into animals.

In a report published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers said that the organ was capable of producing urine, but was still not as effective as a natural one.

But the report does state that it believes the development to be a significant breakthrough in creating a new way to cater for the demand for one of the most frequently sought after organs for transplants.

The idea is that an old kidney could eventually be stripped of its old cells, which would then leave a scaffold resembling a honeycomb and allow the organ to be rebuilt by using cells from the patient.

Scientists took a rat kidney and used a detergent to wash away the old cells, leaving a web of proteins and an intricate network of blood vessels and drainage pipes.

This structure was then used to place the right cells to the appropriate area of kidney, where they would join and rebuild the organ.

The organ was grown in a special oven, which mimicked the conditions of a rat's body for the next 12 days.

This technique is already used to help recreate other organs and body parts, but the kidney has remained one of the most complicated and difficult organs to reproduce effectively.

There are several significant advantages in using this method for organ donation; the first is that the tissue would match the patient, meaning that there would be no need to take a lifetime of drugs in order to prevent rejection from the body. 

Another advantage would be that the number of organs available for donation.

Lead researcher Dr Harald Ott told the BBC: "If you think about the United States alone, there's 100,000 patients currently waiting for kidney transplants and there's only around 18,000 transplants done a year.

"I think the potential clinical impact of a successful treatment would be enormous."

Written by Martin Lambert

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