By Tim Sandle
Mar 4, 2013 – 6 hours ago in Science
Scientists based at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have generated human kidney cells from human embryonic stem cells within a laboratory.
The research outcome means that renal cells have been created for the first time without using animals or organs. The new method of creating the cells, as the research brief outlines, is a method which enables human embryonic stem cells to differentiate into renal proximal tubular-like cells in a laboratory culture.
The artificially created cells were compared to natural cells and were found to be indistinguishable (such as in terms of gene and protein expression patterns, which allow for genetic and physical differences to be seen).
Stem cells are biological cells found in all most living things, including people. The cells can differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. Stem cells have been used in research to treat various diseases and disabilities.
The objective for creating the cells is to examine the effect of drug toxicity upon kidney cells. This is because the kidney is a major target organ for drug-induced toxic effects and allows drugs to be tested prior to later trials involving animals and, eventually, humans. The affect of drugs on the kidneys is termed nephrotoxicity. The nephrotoxic effect of most drugs is more profound in patients who already suffer from renal impairment. It also stands that some drugs may affect renal function in more than one way.
The research was led by Dr Daniele Zink, based at the Singapore institute, and the findings have been published in the journal Kidney International.