~ Stem Cells Grow Kidneys

The January 29 2002 issue of New Scientist Magazine http://www.newscientist.com/ reported that scientists from Advanced Cell Technology, who earlier announced the first cloning of a human embryo, have succeeded in cloning a kidney from stem cells derived from cloned cow embryos. In research jointly conducted with Harvard University, the cells were transplanted into cows with the same genetics and became fully functional. The work has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and no further details are being released at this time.

Last year, researchers at Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Imperial College School of Medicine in London demonstrated for the first time that human bone marrow stem cells could be transformed into kidney cells. The research, published in the Journal of Pathology, volume 195 issue 2, September 2001, examined kidneys of female mice that had received a bone marrow transplant from a male donor, and kidney biopsies taken from men who had received kidneys from females. The researchers looked for the presence of the Y chromosome in the tissue in order to determine if circulating stem cells from bone marrow had migrated into the kidney and differentiated into renal parenchymal cells. Both the human and mouse kidneys showed Y chromosome-containing cells, proving that bone marrow cells contribute to kidney regeneration as well as normal kidney cell turnover.

Study coauthor Nicholas A Wright, of the Histopathology Unit of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund commented, "This discovery is very exciting and means we have new ways to treat kidney damage caused by cancer or other diseases. Doctors could use stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow to replenish kidney cells lost by injury. This would be of huge benefit as the kidney is very poor at repairing itself. Furthermore, there would be much less complication with the kidneys rejecting the new cells, because they would come from the patient's own body. Another exciting development would be using bone marrow stem cells containing genes resistant to cancer or other disease, to protect the kidneys from further damage."

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