A ground-breaking study in Israel has shown that it is possible to rejuvenate damaged kidneys in a procedure that could reverse chronic kidney disease and bypass the need for dialysis.
Scientists and clinicians in Ramat Gan heralded the potential breakthrough in the fight against the disease, which is often precipitated by hypertension and diabetes, and which affects up to ten percent of the world’s population.
The study on mice was conducted by Professor Benjamin Dekel at the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center, with the results published this week in the prestigious Cell Reports medical journal.
Kidneys constantly renew themselves, with colonies of cells replacing lost and degenerated cells. Dekel’s team extracted healthy kidney cells from diseased kidneys and improved their function in a lab using special 3-D cultures, then reintroduced the new cells to the damaged kidneys, where they helped to rebuild them by generating new renal structures.
The results will now be studied in clinical trials conducted on patients with renal failure by the firm KidneyCure Bio, which commercialised the technology.
Dekel said: “The breakthrough is not only in the ability to maintain the kidney-renewing cells outside the body, but also in the ability to multiply them and generate large numbers of cells and make them function properly using the 3-D cultures.
“This is important news for patients with chronic kidney disease, who hopefully will benefit from these discoveries in the coming years. The ability to generate new kidney tissue – to replace the damaged tissue – could help millions worldwide who suffer from kidney disease.”