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Bioartificial Kidney Will Soon Become a Reality, Could Revolutionize Treatments

Nov 21, 2016 05:08 AM EST
Scientists are getting closer to creating a functional bioartificial kidney, which could one day revolutionize treatments for kidney failure without the need for expensive dialysis or transplants in millions of patients around the world.
(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Scientists are a step closer to making another scientific breakthrough: creating a functional bioartificial kidney.

Researchers from the Netherlands said that they have made an important advance towards creating the organ. They have managed to form a "living membrane," the key requirement for the synthetic organ, consisting of a tight kidney cell layer on artificial membrane surfaces that can transport molecules from one side to another.

"This study shows the successful development of a living membrane consisting of a reproducible ciPTEC monolayer on hollow fiber membranes, an important step towards the development of a bioartificial kidney device," Dr. Dimitrios Stamatialis from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and one of the researchers, said in a statement.

"The strategies and methods of this work could be relevant to the development of other bioartificial organs, such as a bioartificial liver or bioartificial pancreas, and organs on chips-such as a kidney on chip, a lung on chip, or a liver on chip."

In the paper, which was presented at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, the researchers reported that the living membrane was achieved using conditionally immortalized human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells (ciPTEC's) on polyethersulfone-based hollow fiber membranes.

According to the scientists, the bioartificial kidney will benefit the millions of patients suffering from kidney failure, as it would replace the need for dialysis or transplantation. In the United States alone, 26 million American adults have kidney disease - and most are unaware of it. Two of the leading causes of kidney disease are high blood pressure and diabetes, the National Kidney Foundation reports.

Medical researchers are making progress in engineering synthetic organs to aid treatments. Groundbreaking developments include an artificial liver, 3-D printed kidneys and bones, synthetic blood vessels, and artificial skin from umbilical cord stem cells, among others.

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