With 26 million Americans having chronic kidney disease and almost 100,000 waiting for a kidney transplant, the numbers themselves are rather grim. Although the amount of donors and transplants has risen recently, researchers are still looking for ways to build an organic kidney that could replace defective ones. As a temporary solution, other researchers have looked at creating an artificial kidney that would give more time while waiting for a transplant.
The Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research has successfully built kidney “organoids”. They are not like “whole” kidneys, but they perform the same organic functions – mainly blood filtration. This was done by growing kidney tissues and the hard part was to promote enough blood vessels growth in the new areas so that blood filtering could happen. For now, it works in rats.
This is more an “extension” of the kidney than a replacement, but if it helps performing the function, why not? Although this seems very promising, we’re probably years, if not decades, away from any human medical application. What do you think of the idea of growing a kidney in a lab one day?