BY | April 17, 2013

For many it will be a ray of hope. Artificial kidney transplants in humans is set to be possible in five years

Medical science is making strides. It is developing at breakneck speed. But this is because of the commitment of the universities, scientists and increased research and development in the field that has given a big boost to original research in medical science. Vaccines are being launched, new medicines of incurable diseases are being tested and newer ways are being thought to make people’s lives better and more secure.

But the latest achievement is simply marvellous and people are going to immensely benefit from it in the days to come. Scientists were working on developing artificial kidneys, and thankfully they are finally able to launch a kidney that is completely developed in brain and hasn’t grown inside a man’s body. Kidney transplants are very difficult process and though kidney may be available, but every person cannot receive every kidney that is donated. In many places in the world especially in South Asian countries like India and Pakistan even criminals forcibly abduct people and take out their kidneys in order to sell these precious kidney in the market and make a huge profit.

But all these things may become a thing of past as scientists successfully grow artificial kidneys in the lab that may be transplanted in a person who actually needs it. 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.

Though there are still some doubts, but 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.

There is a huge and ever increasing demand for more and more kidneys. 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.
Reports coming out about the latest development suggest that 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.

Dr. Harald Ott while talking about it further said, “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”. “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. So things are looking very promising for patients who need kidney transplant, but it may still need a couple of years before it is successfully done on humans.

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