Scientists have successfully created kidney organoids from urine cells. This could lead to a wide range of new treatments that are less onerous for kidney patients. The results of the research is published in Nature Biotechnology.
Thanks to revolutionary developments in stem cell research, scientists can grow mini intestines, livers, lungs and pancreases in the lab. Recently, by growing so-called pluripotent stem cells, they have also been able to do this for kidneys. In their study, the researchers used adult stem cells, directly from the patient, for the first time. Urine cells also proved to be ideal for this purpose.
Human tubuloids represent proximal as well as distal nephron segments, as evidenced by gene expression, immunofluorescence and tubular functional analyses. The authors applied tubuloids to model infectious, malignant and hereditary kidney diseases in a personalized fashion. BK virus infection of tubuloids recapitulates in vivo phenomena. Tubuloids are established from Wilms tumors.
A mini kidney from the lab doesn't look like a normal kidney. But the simple cell structures share many of the characteristics of real kidneys, so researchers can use them to study certain kidney diseases. 'We can use these mini kidneys to model various disorders: hereditary kidney diseases, infections and cancer. This allows us to study in detail what exactly is going wrong', says the group leader. 'This helps us to understand the workings of healthy kidneys better, and hopefully, in the future, we will be able to develop treatments for kidney disorders.'
Kidney tubuloids derived from the urine of a subject with cystic fibrosis allow ex vivo assessment of treatment efficacy. The tubuloids cultured on microfluidic organ-on-a-chip plates adopt a tubular conformation and display active (trans-)epithelial transport function.
Kidney patients who undergo a transplant are at risk of contracting a viral infection. Unfortunately, at the moment there is still no effective treatment for this. 'In the lab, we can give a mini kidney a viral infection which some patients contract following a kidney transplant,' says another author. 'We can then establish whether this infection can be cured using a specific drug. And we can also use mini kidneys created from the tissue of a patient with kidney cancer to study cancer.'
Human mini kidneys from urine cells
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