For the first time, Japanese researchers claim to have successfully grown human kidney tissues from stem cells, a potential breakthrough for millions with damaged organs who are dependent on dialysis.
The latest accomplishment is seen as the first step towards transplanting kidney tissue generated from pluripotent stem cells.
The research team led by Kenji Osafune from the Kyoto University succeeded in generating kidney tissue from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, for the first time ever.
They generated part of a urinary tubule using iPS cells that are capable of developing into all tissues of the body, Kyodo news agency reported.
Kidneys have a complex structure and once damaged can be hard to restore, forcing many people with kidney problems to rely on dialysis.
By adding several substances to iPS cells, researchers succeeded in generating intermediate mesoderm tissue, of which kidneys are largely composed, after 11 days of cultivation with a success rate of more than 90 per cent.
The team then cultivated the intermediate mesoderm with kidney cells from a mouse embryo to produce part of the structure of a urinary tubule.
The generated tissue was part of a tubule structure because it generated a protein called LTL, which is characteristic of urinary tubules, researchers concluded.
It was also confirmed that other kidney cells such as glomerular podocytes and collecting tubule cells were generated, the report said.
The team will confirm if the generated urinary tubule functions normally and will generate other kidney tissue in pursuit of clinical applications, Osafune said.