Indiana University School of Medicine scientists have successfully transplanted primary kidney cells intravenously to treat renal failure in rats, pointing the way to a possible future alternative to kidney transplants and expensive dialysis treatments in humans.
The researchers (above), Katherine J. Kelly, M.D., associate professor of medicine, and Jesus Dominguez, M.D., professor of medicine, genetically modified the cells in the laboratory to produce a protein – called SAA – that plays an important role in renal cell growth, embryonic kidney development and kidney regeneration after an injury. Modified cells found their way to the appropriate locations of the damaged kidneys, resulting in regeneration of tissue and improved function in the kidney.
"Ultimately, you can imagine taking a part of someone's kidney, expanding those cells with appropriate growth factors in a tissue culture dish, and then giving the cells back," said Dr. Kelly.
The researchers cautioned, however, that much work remains to be done before tests could begin in humans.
Their work will be published in an article in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, read the abstract