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[IP] Breakthrough in kidney research

Breakthrough in kidney research

Breakthrough could lead to new treatments
Scientists have shown for the first time that
cells in bone marrow are capable of turning
into kidney cells.

The breakthrough could lead to new ways to
treat kidney damage caused by cancer and
other diseases.

It could also mean that doctors may eventually
be able to restore function to patients suffering from kidney failure, and may
pave the way to new gene therapy for kidney diseases.

The work has been carried out by scientists at
the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Barts
Hospital, the London Hospital and Imperial
College School of Medicine.

Early development

They focused on cells from the bone marrow at
the very earliest stage of their development.

At this stage this stem cells have the potential
to develop into white blood cells, red blood
cells or another type of blood structure called a

Scientists have already shown that these cells
can transform themselves into liver cells.

The new work shows that they can turn into
 kidney cells too.

Professor Nick Wright, head of Imperial Cancer
Research Fund's Histopathology Unit, said: "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


Research pathologists in Imperial Cancer's
Histopathology Unit analysed female kidneys
transplanted into male patients.

Using a special DNA probe that identifies male
cells they checked the patient's new kidneys.
They found male kidney cells in the donated
female kidneys, meaning that the recipient's
male bone marrow cells had transformed into
kidney tissue.

Professor Wright said: "Anti-rejection
medication after a kidney transplant costs
about #5,000 per patient a year, and each
year the number of new patients needing
kidney transplants increases by about 5%.

"It would be fantastic to save kidney patients
this trauma and save the NHS some money."

Dr Poulsom, a research pathologist at Imperial
Cancer, said: "The potential for advances in
medicine from using adult stem cells is

"They can give rise to many different types of
cells so any organ may one day be repaired.
Using adult stem cells also avoids the ethical
dilemmas associated with embryonic stem cell

The research is published in the Journal of

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