Kidney diseases are extremely intimidating. But something that is soothing is that we are moving a step ahead in fathoming kidney disorders with the help of kidney organoids. Yeah, kidney organoids are now making a worthwhile contribution to the advancement of kidney research.

A group of Medical researchers from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has successfully grown kidney organoids, also termed as mini-kidneys that provides in-depth insights into kidney functioning. From understanding kidney diseases to developing kidney replacement therapies, these kidney organoids are highly significant.

How were these mini-kidneys developed? Normal adult cells were taken from a patient suffering from polycystic kidney disease (a disease that is the most common cause of kidney failures in adults). Scientists genetically reprogrammed these cells into patient-specific stems cells. The creation of these induced pluripotent stem cells is crucial to the development of kidney organoids/ mini-kidneys since an adult human body doesn’t possess any kidney stem cells. Four to five weeks later, these mini-kidneys form fluid-filled cysts, one of the characteristic symptoms of polycystic kidney disease.

So what are the benefits of growing these kidney organoids? These stem cell organoids can be used to validate and test the efficacy of potential drug molecules for drug discovery. They are of high potential in enabling the discovery of new personalized treatment methods to completely treat polycystic kidney disease. This approach can also aid researchers to study various kidney diseases other than polycystic kidney disease. By similarly generating kidney organoids from an adult patient with any other genetic kidney diseases, scientists can design distinct treatment plans for patients with specific gene mutations.

Moreover, this research has also provided illuminating insights into human kidney development. Yes, they have discovered Nephron Progenitor Cells, a new source of stem cells that highly contribute to the making of blood vessel networks in Kidneys. It is therefore clear beyond a shadow of the doubt that kidney organoid or mini-kidney, a biological and anatomical replica of human kidneys is oiling the wheels of advanced medical research on kidneys.

“Individuals with kidney disease who are able to obtain treatment early experience a higher quality of life and are able to maintain more of their day-to-day activities”- Xavier Becerra


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