Scientists grow kidneys in a lab, successfully transplant them into rats


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Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have transplanted kidneys grown in a lab into rats with some success, in what is viewed as an important step for potentially life-saving human kidney transplants in the future.

Though the lab-grown kidneys didn’t work as well as the real thing once they were reinserted into the rats, they did start to filter blood and urine, says a report published in Nature Medicine.

To make the kidneys, researchers used a donor kidney from a recently dead rat and stripped it of its cells. They then grew new cells on the existing “scaffolding” left behind, which includes “collagen and other compounds,” explains The New York Times.

The team leader, Harald Ott, has also used a similar technique to grow lungs and hearts, reports Nature.com. Though using this technique on humans is a long way off, it could, eventually, save lives for those waiting for a donor kidney: “If he and his team can scale up their technique to produce human kidneys, they could provide ready-made, genetically tailored organs that would be much less likely to be rejected by a patient’s immune system,” writes Ed Young at Nature.com.

Ott explains the process in more detail in this video, created by Nature.com:

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