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Artificial kidneys in the future as a replacement for donor organs?
The first artificial kidneys were successfully implanted in rats. A team of researchers led by Austrian Harald Ott from Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston has used a method previously used only for the production of artificial hearts, livers and lungs for the biological simulation of a kidney. The artificial kidneys were then used in rats and showed the ability to produce urine, even if their function lagged significantly behind that of a natural rat kidney. The researchers published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Medicine".
The process for the production of the artificial kidney was based on the approach already used by Harald Ott in the biological reconstruction of the heart and lungs, which provides for a reduction of the organ to the original cell structure and a subsequent reconstruction with fresh cells in a so-called bioreactor. The artificial kidneys created in this way proved to be fully functional both in laboratory tests and after implantation in living rats. The researchers led by Harald Ott are hoping that in the future kidneys can be manufactured artificially as needed. The long wait for a donor organ would finally come to an end for those affected.
Artificial kidney achieves 23 percent of normal kidney function The research team led by Harald Ott from Massachusetts General Hospital used a special procedure to completely free the basic structure of the kidneys of deceased rats from the kidney cells, leaving only the collagen structure of the organ in the end. Then fresh kidney cells were placed on it. After twelve days, an artificial kidney developed in the bioreactor, which achieved around 23 percent of full kidney function in laboratory tests. The researchers implanted kidney-living rats, where the artificial organs still reached an average of five to ten percent of normal kidney function. Once the blood supply to the artificial kidneys was established, they began to produce urine, "with no signs of bleeding or blood clots “Write the researchers.
Low risk of rejection in the biological kidneys "If this technique can be scaled to the human size of transplants, patients with renal failure who are currently waiting for a donor kidney or who are not candidates for transplantation could theoretically develop new ones derived from their own cells. Preserve organs, ”said Austrian surgeon Harald Ott. A major advantage of the new artificial kidneys would not only be the availability (according to the researchers, around 100,000 patients in the United States are currently waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States alone), but also the low risk of rejection of the organ or the high level of biocompatibility. So far, even those who are lucky enough to receive a transplant have to take immunosuppressive drugs for a lifetime and still end up being at risk of rejection after a kidney transplant.
Organs on order? Regarding the still very low functionality of the artificial kidneys, Harald Ott explained that "a further refinement of the cell types for sowing and further maturation" in the bioreactor could bring about significant improvements here. There is hope that "one day biotechnological kidneys will be able to completely replace kidney function, as donor kidneys do." With ideal development, the necessary transplants can be made "on demand" from the patient's own cells, what the organ deficiency and the need for chronic immunosuppression could be overcome, according to the researchers. (fp)
Image: Martin Büdenbender / pixelio.de