This is great news for lots of people around the world. Donated kidneys are in huge demand worldwide.
A kidney-like organ grown from scratch in the lab has been shown to work in animals. This is an achievement that could be the prelude to growing spare kidneys for someone from their own stem cells.
A team at Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Bergamo, Italy, extracted cells from the kidneys of mouse embryos as they grew in the mother. The cells formed clumps that could be grown for a week in the lab to become “organoids” containing the fine plumbing of nephrons – the basic functional unit of the kidney. A human kidney can contain over 1 million nephrons.
Kidneys are the latest of several lab-grown organs and replacement parts to be developed, including livers, windpipes, parts of voiceboxes and hearts. The biggest question of all, however, is whether large enough grafts can be made to benefit patients. Although it will be several years before lab-grown tissues can help patients, the team says that the latest findings are a key milestone on the way.