News / Health

    Bioengineered Kidney a Possible Solution to Donor-Organ Crisis

    FILE - Dr. Stephen Badylak (University of Pittsburgh)
    FILE - Dr. Stephen Badylak (University of Pittsburgh)
    Jessica Berman
    Scientists in Boston, Massachusetts, have for the first time bioengineered a functioning rat kidney, a development that could eventually change the lives of humans on lengthy organ-transplant waiting lists.  But some experts are concerned the technology could run up against a lengthy regulatory process.  

    In the United States alone, an estimated 17,000 people a year with end-stage kidney disease are able to receive a life-saving donor organ.  But that’s only a fraction of the patients on waiting lists for transplantable kidneys.  About 90 percent of them are on dialysis; many die waiting.

    That makes the achievement by researcher Harald Ott and colleagues at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital especially exciting, says Stephen Badylak, a pioneer in the field of organ regeneration at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

    “So, this has the potential to take care of that [donor shortage] problem and, even better, if it works, the patients who receive these types of engineered organs won’t have to receive an immunosuppressant," said Badylak. "I think everyone on renal dialysis now would applaud this work.”

    Dr. Badylak's own work in regenerative medicine involves developing livers for transplant.

    Dr. Ott’s team used a detergent to completely cleanse the rat kidney of living tissue, leaving a protein framework that retains the structure of the blood vessels and other parts of the organ.  The scientists then repopulated that framework with human cells for the blood vessel linings, and kidney cells from newborn rats.  The reassembled organ was then put in an incubating chamber for five days to let the tissues grow.  The result was a functioning rat kidney.  

    Although the regenerated rat kidney in Ott's study produced urine, it did not function as well as a natural organ.

    It’s possible, says Stephen Badylak, that patients needing transplants could have their own dysfunctional organs regenerated in the same way.  Badylak says they would not have to take immunosuppressant drugs, with all their unpleasant side effects, to keep their bodies from rejecting a donor organ.  

    At the rate the field is progressing, Badylak predicts organ regeneration could become a real option for human transplant patients in five to seven years.  But he's concerned about major regulatory hurdles.

    “We are going to be ready to help people with this before we are going to have regulatory agencies telling us 'wait until we figure out how to handle it.'  This should be a wake up call for them to say, ‘This is coming," he said. "How are we going to take care of this?'”

    Curt Civin leads the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  

    He says hematopoietic stem cells, or master cells from bone marrow, have been studied longer than any other tissue.

    Civin says the blood stem cells from marrow are at the heart of regenerative medicine because they animate the organ scaffold, making it function.   

    But Civin believes the complexity of the field means it will be a while before entire customized organs, such as kidneys, are available for human transplant.

    “So I think this problem will yield - in perhaps one decade, perhaps two decades - to where we have lots of rats and mice and other animals with transplanted kidneys made from stem cells, maybe by techniques very much like this, and then we’re at the setting to study in the [human] patients," said Civin.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory authority over any new drugs, medical devices and procedures, did not offer a comment.  The agency has strict guidelines requiring data from clinical trials before deciding whether to approve a procedure - a process that can take years.  

    But the FDA also has a fast-track approval process to expedite the review of drugs or in this case, the regeneration of organs for transplantation, when there is a serious, unmet medical need.

    An article on the creation of a functioning rat kidney by Harald Ott and colleagues is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora