Scientists are now working to bioprinting kidneys in the lab for treatments of kidney failure. The research was led by a collaboration of Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) and biotech company Organovo. Findings were published in Nature Materials and discusses the validated use of 3D bioprinted kidneys to screen for drug toxicity.
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In addition, the research also showed that 3D bioprinting stem cells can generate large enough sheets of kidney tissue that is needed for transplants. This process utilizes what is known as ‘bioink’ that is made from a stem cell paste to ultimately create artificial living tissue in a dish.
To screen for drugs, the study used aminoglycosides—a class of antibiotics with implications in kidney damage.
"Drug-induced injury to the kidney is a major side effect and difficult to predict using animal studies. Bioprinting human kidneys are a practical approach to testing for toxicity before use," notes MCRI Professor Melissa Little, and a world leader in modelling the human kidney.
"We found increased death of particular types of cells in the kidneys treated with aminoglycosides," Professor Little said.
"By generating stem cells from a patient with a genetic kidney disease, and then growing mini kidneys from them, also paves the way for tailoring treatment plans specific to each patient, which could be extended to a range of kidney diseases."
"3D bioprinting can generate larger amounts of kidney tissue but with precise manipulation of biophysical properties, including cell number and conformation, improving the outcome," she said.
Although findings of the study are compelling, its is far too early to presume lab-grown kidneys can be used for transplantation in the near future.
Source: Science Daily