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Lab-engineered kidney project reaches early milestone
Date:6/21/2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. June 21, 2012 Regenerative medicine researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have reached an early milestone in a long-term project that aims to build replacement kidneys in the lab to help solve the shortage of donor organs.

In proof-of-concept research published online ahead of print in Annals of Surgery, the team successfully used pig kidneys to make "scaffolds" or support structures that could potentially one day be used to build new kidneys for human patients. The idea is to remove all animal cells leaving only the organ structure or "skeleton." A patient's own cells would then be placed on the scaffold, making an organ that the patient theoretically would not reject.

While this is one of the first studies to assess the possibility of using whole pig kidneys to engineer replacement organs, the idea of using organ structures from pigs to help human patients is not new. Pig heart valves removed of cells have been used for more than three decades to provide heart valve replacements in human patients.

"It is important to identify new sources of transplantable organs because of the critical shortage of donor organs," said lead author Giuseppe Orlando, M.D., an instructor in surgery and regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist. "These kidneys maintain their innate three-dimensional architecture, as well as their vascular system, and may represent the ideal platform for kidney engineering."

For the research, pig kidneys were soaked in a detergent to remove all cells, leaving behind the organ's "skeleton," including its system of blood vessels. In addition, the structure of the nephron the kidney's functional unit was maintained. The scaffolds were implanted in animals, where they were re-filled with blood and were able to maintain normal blood pressure, proving that the process of removing cells doesn't affect the mechanical strength of the vessels.

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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wakehealth.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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