CMRB: Scientists create, for the first time, “mini-kidneys" from human stem cells

CMRB: Scientists create, for the first time, “mini-kidneys" from human stem cells

News from CMRB

A team of researchers from the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB), the Salk Institute in California and the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona creates three-dimensional kidney structures in culture using human stem cells.

Up to now scientists have had a limited success in producing kidney cells in culture, therefore this new study is a scientific revolution. 

The scientific paper, now published in the prestigious journal Nature Cell Biology, represents a revolution in the field of biomedicine. The kidney tissues obtained by Izpisúa’s team will be a valuable tool, available to the scientific community, to investigate the development of the human kidney, the causes of kidney diseases and to test drugs in culture. "The generation of these well-organized 3D renal structures raises hope to think that one day we could use our own cells to regenerate our diseased organs, thus solving the shortage of organs for transplantation," explains Izpisúa.

To create these three-dimensional kidney structures, the researchers at Barcelona and California used embryonic stem cells and iPS cells obtained from human skin cells. The scientists developed a protocol by which they managed to convert stem cells in progenitor cells of the renal filtration and collection system in just 4 days in culture. These cells where then cultured with cells of the mouse metanephric blastema (a structure of the embryonic kidney). The result was that the two types of cells combined forming three-dimensional structures similar to the embryonic kidney, with a collection system exclusively made of human cells. Over time, these human progenitor cells recapitulated, in culture, the development processes of the human kidney. "Not only is it the first time that we have been able to create renal tissues in culture, but also that our studies have enabled the formation of three-dimensional structures typical of human organs," explains the first author of the paper, Ignacio Sancho-Martínez, "this will help us to study kidney development and the causes that lead to the onset of certain kidney diseases", says Núria Montserrat, co-author of the work.

More information:

Directed differentiation of human pluripotent cells to ureteric bud kidney progenitor-like cells. Nature Cell Biology.