Stem cells created from human kidneys

Australian researchers have managed to “trick” human kidney cells into reverting to generalised cells able to develop into virtually any type of tissue in the body.

Creating stem cells without the use of embryos offers scientists a powerful new set of tools for studying the molecular mechanisms driving genetic kidney disorders such as polycystic kidney disease and Alport syndrome, as well as for testing new treatments for the diseases.

“This research is a stepping stone for the development of iPS cells from patients with genetic kidney disease, which is one of the most common life-threatening genetic conditions,” said team leader and kidney specialist Sharon Ricardo, with Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories. There are currently no treatments to prevent or slow life-threatening damage caused by such inherited kidney diseases.

Bernie Tuch, director of the NSW Stem Cell Network, welcomed the “novel” work. “The advantage in having a kidney cell as the source iPS cell is that it’s the only type of cell that retains the full genetic defect,” he said.

That is, if skin cells are used to create iPS cells for kidney research, they do not “remember” the defect causing the person’s inherited kidney disease.




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