Another scientific breakthrough has been achieved involving tissue generation and the use of stem cells. For the very first time, kidney tissue was generated from iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) by a Kyoto University research team led by Kenji Osafune. A report on the accomplishment was published this week in the science journal Nature Communications.
Due to their complex structure, kidneys are very hard to restore once damaged, resulting in many patients having to rely on dialysis treatments. Using iPS cells, which are known for being able to develop into any type of tissue from the body, Osafune’s team was able to generate a portion of a urinary tubule. This is seen as a strong first step towards generating kidney tissue from stem cells that can then be used in transplants.
The Kyoto University researchers’ method involves adding several substances to iPS cells, and with 11 days of cultivation they achieved a 90% success rate of generating mesoderm tissue, which is what kidneys are mostly composed of. The portion of the urinary tubule structure was made with kidney cells from a mouse embryo. Osafune says the team will next confirm if the generated structure functions as normal, then move on to generating other types of kidney tissue that could one day be used in clinical applications.