Milestone Reached in Work to Build Replacement Kidneys in the Lab

A new milestone has been reached in regenerative medicine. Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine scientists have, for the first time, kept blood vessels open and flowing with blood in a replacement kidney study. Lab-grown replacement organs using scaffoldings derived from animal organs have become a widely accepted method in regenerative medicine. The process involves removing the animal cells out of the organ and replacing them with human cells. Theoretically this method would not only provide a new source for organ transplants, but would also decrease the chances of rejection since the organ would be comprised of the recipient’s cells.

However, replacement organ research has been stalled at the preclinical level. Past transplant studies have ended in organ failure after only a couple hours due to severe clotting. Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine scientists have addressed this hurdle with the development of a novel two-step process. Using this new method they have successfully transplanted a kidney, created from a pig scaffolding, that maintained blood flow for a four-hour test period.

“The results are a promising indicator that it is possible to produce a fully functional vascular system that can deliver nutrients and oxygen to engineered kidneys, as well as other engineered organs,” said In Kap Ko, PhD, lead author and instructor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The next step for this research team is a longer-term study to determine how long flow can be maintained.

Learn more about Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s two-pronged approach.