What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully transplanted a lab-grown kidney into a mouse that filters blood and urine, albeit at a fraction of a natural kidney's functionality. Still, the method used to create the kidney holds promise for the creation of other organs. Called whole organ decellularisation, this process "involves stripping an organ back to its building blocks using a detergent, then growing new, healthy progenitor stem cells onto this empty, scaffold-like structure that holds everything together." Led by Dr Harald Ott, the procedure follows other successful attempts at lab-grown heart and lung transplants.
What's the Big Idea?
While any lab-grown kidney can be expected to have limited functionality, even organs operating at 10-15 percent efficiency would be enough to free patients of dialysis machines, said Ott. The largest challenge ahead of regenerative medicine is manufacturing. Each kidney would require 10,000,000,000 cells and require major technological advances. "Currently, our manufacturing ability is at least two orders of magnitude below the goal of having bioengineered kidneys available for routine clinical practice at a cost that would be acceptable to the payers."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com