‘Laboratory-Grown’ Kidney Transplanted In Rat, Produces Real Urine: Will The Breakthrough Save Thousands Of Patients?

By Gopi Chandra Kharel on April 15, 2013 4:49 AM EDT

Lab-grown Kidney
The collagen scaffolding of a kidney, left behind after removing the cells, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters April 12, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

A kidney "bioengineered" inside a laboratory has been transplanted into an animal where it began producing real urine, reports suggest.

A study that has been published in the journal Nature Medicine reported on the construction of the kidney, which is one of the most complicated organs "grown" inside a laboratory so far.

The idea behind the study is to take an old kidney with diseases or disabled functionality and remove all the old cells inside. The kidney would then be reconstructed with right cells inserted into the right part of the kidney to construct a healthy kidney to be replanted inside the patient.

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Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital took a rat kidney and washed away old cells inside it using a detergent. The remaining scaffold which has intricate network of blood vessels and drainage pipes were seeded with new cells and constructed into a whole-organ bioreactor.

The resulting graft was kept inside an oven that imitated the environment inside a rat's body for 12 days. They found that the kidney produced urine while the production was only 23% of natural ones. The team transplanted the organ inside a rat's body. The effectiveness of the kidney once inside the body fell to 5%.

Although the study showed that the "Laboratory-grown" kidney were less effective than natural ones, researchers in the field of regenerative medicine have said that such an advance has huge promise for future.

 "If you're on haemodialysis than kidney function of 10% to 15% would already make you independent of haemodialysis. It's not that we have to go all the way," lead researcher on the study Dr Harald Ott told the BBC.

With over 100,000 individuals in the United States currently in need of kidney transplantation and at least 400,000 people living with last-stage kidney diseases, the study notes that the medical breakthrough could address donor organ shortage and the morbidity associated with kidney failures. 

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