On The Road From Stem Cells to Kidney Organoids

On The Road From Stem Cells to Kidney Organoids

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[Image source: BBC]

Canada was the birthplace of stem cell science thanks to Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch in 1961 at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. To learn more about stem cell research in Canada you can watch this video.

Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated and have the potential to become almost any type of cell in the human body. Adult stem cells on the other hand are pre-programmed genetically to already be something. In the future adult kidney stem cells would allow adults to use their very own cells for transplants instead of kidney donations from close matches.

The kidney is a very complex system that includes connective tissue, nephrons which are the tubes within the kidney, and collecting ducts. The human kidney is made up of over 20 different types of cells totaling more than 2 million. Together these cells are responsible for filtering the body’s blood. In order to grow a human kidney from stem cells all of those 20 or more cell types which are responsible for excretion and the balancing of pH, electrolytes, and fluid would all need to be regenerated.

[Image source: BBC]

OK so the road from stem cell to kidney is a long one but there are small victories along the way. A letter published on October 7, 2015 in Nature describes how research scientists using adult stem cells have regenerated a human kidney organoid. Using different exposure times of signaling molecules researchers were able to grow different parts of the kidney. This allowed them to grow a kidney that would be at the same stage as that of a kidney in a human fetus in the first trimester.Even though full grown kidney transplants from human stem cells are still a long way to go, the research thus far is quite valuable. These tissues are excellent models of the human kidney and can be used as a source of cells for therapy, nephrotoxicity screening, and disease modelling.

Source: Nature