A team of Spanish scientists have managed to create the first “mini kidneys” in a laboratory


Fortunately, scientific advances in human stem cell research continue to pay off. In today’s Best Doctors Blog post we would like to discuss a recent research project that, for the first time, has managed to generate three-dimensional “mini kidneys”.

This is long-awaited and promising news for all patients who suffer from kidney diseases, given that their chances of improvement and the creation of treatments to target their conditions may increase in the not so distant future.

Diseases whose impact has risen in recent years

Kidney diseases are one of the biggest challenges faced by the medical community worldwide. Their effect on millions of people imply that research in this field is both urgent and essential, since it is the only way to find effective and real treatment alternatives for the coming decades.

In the U.S., for instance, the number of patients suffering from kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplants has doubled in just over fifteen years.

Comparing progress in kidney research with that already achieved with other organs

Even though other research teams from different countries had previously made significant advances by growing brain and liver tissue, this is the first case in which similar results have been obtained with kidney tissue.

The research project, whose details were published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, was carried out by a team of Spanish scientists at CMRB (Centre of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona) led by Juan Carlos Izpisúa.

The investigators used both embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) obtained from human skin cells. By culturing these with additional cells from mice they were able, in a matter of days, to turn them into progenitors of renal cells, which subsequently contributed to the creation of mini kidney structures.  

The most notable aspect of this study is, undoubtedly, its innovative nature in relation to renal problems, as it has added numerous opportunities for the treatment of a wide variety of kidney disorders which, in the most severe cases, force patients to undergo intense dialysis sessions or, ultimately, kidney transplant.

At Best Doctors we remain committed to providing patients with the most advanced scientific evidence and medical care from the best professionals in all specialties. These are exciting times for medicine, when major challenges to our health will  surely be overcome, and we would like to share this information with the world in real time.

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