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Human kidneys created in mice

The scientists pinpointed the ideal time during embryonic development in which the stem cells have the best chance to form well-functioning kidneys with minimal risk for immune rejection. Their findings suggest that 7-8 week (human) and 4 week (porcine) tissue offers an optimal window of opportunity for transplantation. If taken at earlier time points the tissues will develop disorganized tissue that would include non-kidney structures such as bone, cartilage, and muscle. If taken at later time points the risk for immune rejection is substantial.

Within this optimal time range the tissue doesn't contain certain cells that the body recognizes as foreign (antigen-presenting cells), the scientists found. These cells, which originate in the blood system, reach a developing kidney only after ten weeks.

After growing the human and porcine kidney tissue in mice, the scientists checked how human lymphocytes (fighter cells in the immune system) might react to it. They injected human lymphocytes into immunodeficient mice (that have no immune system and thus do not interfere with the immune response). The findings were encouraging: as long as the kidney precursors were transplanted within the right time range, the lymphocytes did not attack the new pig or human kidneys despite the fact that lymphocytes and kidney precursors originated from different donors. Immune rejection was also tested in normal mice and was shown to be reduced compared to that induced by precursors from later time points.

The procedure is now in the pre-clinical study stage. If all goes well, a treatment may ensue within a few years.


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Contact: Jeffrey J. Sussman
Jeffrey@acwis.org
212-895-7951
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
22-Dec-2002


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