Kidney cells could help do away with transplants

July 28th, 2011 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Syndey, July 28 (IANS) Around 60 million people worldwide have chronic kidney disease and many need dialysis or transplants. But thanks to a vital breakthrough, patients’ own kidney cells collected from urine can now be reprogrammed to make these procedures redundant.

Such reprogramming could mean that in future, fewer kidney patients would require complicated, expensive procedures that affect their quality of life.

There are around 88,000 patients waiting for a kidney transplant in the US, for as long as three to five years.

Sharon Ricardo from Monash University and her colleagues took cells from an individual’s kidney and coaxed them to become progenitor cells, allowing the immature cells to form any type in the kidney, the Journal of the American Society Nephrology reports.

Specifically, they inserted several key reprogramming genes into the renal cells that made them capable of forming other cells, according to a Monash University statement.

In a second study, Miguel Esteban, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China and colleagues found that kidney cells collected from a patient’s urine can also be reprogrammed in this way.

Using cells from urine allows a technology easy to implement in a clinic setting. Even better, urine cells could be frozen and later thawed before they are manipulated.

Besides providing a potentially curative therapy for patients, the breakthroughs might also help investigators study the causes of kidney disease and screen new drugs that could be used to treat them.

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