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Dead kidney is brought back to life in lab

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Thanks to a United States medical team, patients reliant on kidney donors may soon be able to grow their own. Scientists have managed to bring a dead kidney back to life in a laboratory. This is very exciting as, kidney patients account for 90 percent of people on transplant waiting lists. With a current three-year wait for a donor, more than 350 men, women and children die each year before an organ can be found. This soon may change -

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The research team, from Massachusetts General Hospital took a kidney from a dead rat, stripped away the tissue, coated it with new cells and transplanted it into a living animal.

The cells afterwards spread across the framework, providing it with a blood supply in a period of less than two weeks.

The newly transplanted kidney even began to produce urine. "We hope bio-engineered kidneys will someday be able to fully replace kidney function, just as donor kidneys do," Researcher Harald Ott said.

"In an ideal world, grafts would be produced on demand from a patient's own cells."

Ott, who has already grown a beating heart in his laboratory, says that "If this can be scaled to human-sized grafts, patients suffering from renal failure could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells."

A video accompanying the article, which was published in Nature Medicine, says: "If Dr Frankenstein were real and alive today, he'd probably want to stop by the Massachusetts General Hospital. Here, scientists are harvesting dead organs and returning them to life.

"But instead of giant green monsters, these researchers are creating hearts, lungs, limbs and kidneys that could one day be used to replace failing organs in people."

Laboratory tests determined that the constructed kidneys were able to filter blood and produce urine. Transplanted as they were into living rats, the kidneys continued to produce urine with no evidence of bleeding or clot formation.

"What is unique about this approach is that the native organ's architecture is preserved, so that the resulting graft can be transplanted just like a donor kidney and connected to the recipient's vascular and urinary systems," Ott says.

"If this technology can be scaled to human-sized grafts, patients suffering from renal failure who are currently waiting for donor kidneys or who are not transplant candidates could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells."

The scientists have begun to apply the technology at larger scales by stripping cells from pig and human kidneys.

This bodes well for many who anxiously await the proper organ. In the United Kingdom alone, between April 2010 and April 2011 a total of 1,020 living kidney donations were made, and 1,667 organs were taken from recently deceased people. But this still left just under 7,000 people on the waiting list for a donation.

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