A kidney that was grown in a lab at Massachusetts General Hospital was successfully transplanted into a rat, hopefully bringing researchers one step closer to being able to grow kidneys for humans. The kidney functions properly and can produce urine.
The team that created the kidney was led by Harald Ott, a scientist best known for his work in organ cell deconstruction. The scientists used a technique that had previously been successful in creating working hearts, lungs and livers, RT.com reports.
“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 [blood] and urinary systems,” Ott said
“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 breakthrough is good news for the 100,000 people in the U.S. currently awaiting kidney transplants.
“Further refinement of the cell types used for seeding and additional maturation in culture may allow us to achieve a more functional organ. Based on this initial proof of principle, we hope that bioengineered kidneys will some day be able to fully replace kidney function just as donor kidneys do.” Ott said. “In an ideal world, such grafts could be produced on demand from a patient’s own cells, helping us overcome both the organ shortage and the need for chronic immunosuppression.”