A recently published article in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN) indicates that patients’ own kidney cells can be gathered and reprogrammed, which means that in the future, fewer patients with kidney disease would need complicated, expensive procedures that affect their quality of life.
Sharon Ricardo, PhD, from Monash University in Clayton, Austria and her colleagues took cells from an individual’s kidney and reprogrammed them into progenitor cells, allowing the immature cells to form any type in the kidney. The team inserted several key programming genes into the renal cells that made them capable of forming other cells.
In another study, Miguel Esteban, MD, PhD, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, China and his colleagues found that kidney cells collected from the patients’ urine can also be reprogrammed in this way. The use of urine cells is easy to implement in a clinical setting, and the urine cells can be frozen and later thawed before they are reprogrammed.
If researchers are able to expand the reprogrammed cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and return them to the patient, these IPSCs may restore the kidneys’ health and vitality. The breakthroughs might help investigators to study the causes of kidney disease and to screen new drugs that could be used to treat them.
Ian Rogers, PhD, from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto wrote in an accompanying editorial that the two studies “demonstrate the feasibility of using kidney cells as a source o iPSCs and efficient production of adult iPSCs from urine means that cells can be collected at any time.”