Around 60 million people worldwide have chronic kidney disease and
many need dialysis or transplants. But thanks to a vital
breakthrough, patients' own kidney cells collected from urine can
now be reprogrammed to make these procedures redundant.
Such reprogramming could mean that in future, fewer kidney
patients would require complicated, expensive procedures that
affect their quality of life.
There are around 88,000 patients waiting for a kidney transplant
in the US, for as long as three to five years.
Sharon Ricardo from Monash University and her colleagues took
cells from an individual's kidney and coaxed them to become
progenitor cells, allowing the immature cells to form any type in
the kidney, the Journal of the American Society Nephrology
Specifically, they inserted several key reprogramming genes into
the renal cells that made them capable of forming other cells,
according to a Monash University statement.
In a second study, Miguel Esteban, from the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, China and colleagues found that kidney cells collected
from a patient's urine can also be reprogrammed in this way.
Using cells from urine allows a technology easy to implement in a
clinic setting. Even better, urine cells could be frozen and later
thawed before they are manipulated.
Besides providing a potentially curative therapy for patients, the
breakthroughs might also help investigators study the causes of
kidney disease and screen new drugs that could be used to treat