Scientists from Australia and the Netherlands say they have grown rudimentary human kidney tissue from stem cells. This presents a step forward to growing a fully-functional, lab-made organ for transplant. The tissue is not yet a viable organ, but may be useful for other purposes such as for an alternative to animals in drug toxicity testing. The researchers grew their “kidney-like structure” from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are adult cells reprogrammed into a neutral state from which they can be coaxed to develop into other cell types.
Creating human organs from stem cells is a complicated task. Scientists need to prompt stem cells to become kidney, lung, or liver cells, which then must recreate the complex anatomy of a real organ.
According to Jamie Davies, a University of Edinburgh anatomy expert, the work represented “an important step towards building stem-cell-derived kidneys”, however he stressed the product could not be called a kidney, rather at this stage it is an “organoid”.
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