For the first time ever a lab grown kidney has been transplanted into a living rat. This breakthrough coming from Massachusetts is a huge step forward in the treatment of kidney disease which has such a large impact on the way over 51,000 people in the UK with end stage kidney disease. 90% of the patients on the transplant waiting list in the UK have kidney conditions which leave them making regular hospital trips for dialysis treatment. The idea of lab grown kidney and other organs for transplant has always been something of science fiction but now this may well become a reality.
Medical Scientist Harald Ott began the process by using a special detergent to strip the functional cells from the damaged kidney leaving only the collagen scaffolding which gives the kidney its shape. Once this was done the team behind the research then placed the kidney and blood vessel cells into the structure. This then developed over a period of 12 days into a working lab grown kidney which was surgically placed into a lab rat. Amazingly the kidney functioned as it should have and allowed the rat to produce urine.
This amazing development in regenerative medicine has brought hope to millions across the globe. If this process works for the kidney there is a good chance that other organs could be grown and then inserted into a sick person. Although this aspect of science is still very young, there is a lot of scope for development which could help a huge number of people across the globe in need of organ transplants.
One of the big issues with current transplant procedures is that the body rejects the kidney considering it a foreign body. This means immunosuppressant drugs are needed to make sure the lab grown kidney functions properly. A lab grown organ wouldn’t have this issue removing one of the biggest risks of an organ transplant. Let’s hope that this technology is further developed to improve the lives of transplant patients around the world.