BY | April 16, 2013

Artificial kidney transplants will be possible in 5 years as rat kidneys made in lab. This is a great development as scientists grow artificial kidneys, and successfully tested on rats

U.S. scientists have grown up an artificial kidney in the laboratory, giving a slice of hope for medical science. After successful development, it has been transplanted into a rat, which could stay alive with the kidney, though it was less efficient than the natural one. The animal started to cleanse blood and produce urine with the engineered kidney, the scientists added.

Many similar techniques to build body parts for patients have been active there for a while. But, to develop a kidney is one of the most difficult tasks, scientists who worked behind the project admitted. They also admit that engineered kidneys are less effective than natural ones. The study about the artificial kidney appeared in the journal Nature Medicine.

In spite of its less efficiency, success in making a kidney in lab is a huge promise for regenerative medicine research. Kidney in an animal body bears the role of filtering blood to take out waste and excess water. It is indeed one of the most in-demand body parts for transplant. In the U.S., 100,000 patients currently wait for kidney transplanting, with only 20,000 transplants are taking place a year.

Needless to say, artificial kidney development is a great contribution the researchers could give to the medical science. The researchers took an old kidney and fixed it to all its older cells, thus leaving a honeycomb-like scaffold. The new kidney would then be restored with the old cells which will result in the origin of a new artificial kidney.

According to BBC, increase in number of artificial kidney transplants has two major advantages other than the current organ transplants. First of all, the “tissue would match the patient, so they would not need a lifetime of drugs to suppress the immune system to prevent rejection.” Secondly, it would increase the count of organs that are available for transplant. Remember, most of the kidneys that are offered are rejected; now they can be used as templates.

A team of scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital has taken the initial step to build engineered kidneys. They have been working with rat’s kidneys in their efforts to grow artificial ones, which have been realized with all complicated network of an original kidney including the blood veins and drainage vein pipes.

Researchers stored the engineered kidneys in a special oven for nearly two weeks to recreate the condition in a rat’s body. After they were placed in the animals, they started to produce urine with an efficiency of 23 percent of the natural ones. But, sadly, inside the body the artificial kidney lost of effectiveness further, taking it down to 5 percent.

However, scientists have expressed hope that it could be resurrected easily with some more research and efforts. “If you’re on haemodialysis then kidney function of 10% to 15% would already make you independent of haemodialysis. It’s not that we have to go all the way,” said Dr. Harald Ott, the lead researcher.

“If you think about the United States alone, there’s 100,000 patients currently waiting for kidney transplants and there’s only around 18,000 transplants done a year,” he said. “I think the potential clinical impact of a successful treatment would be enormous,” Dr. Harald expressed hope.

It is surely an impressive creation from scientists. It will be a great advantage for the medical field if the kidneys can be built for humans also. As Mr. Harald put it, there is a huge demand for kidney transplants. But, lack of enough donors bas been a matter of concern for a long time. Once the regenerative kidney development works well, it might be a big leap for medical science.

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