Could Stem Cell Treatments Replace Dialysis for People with Kidney Disease?

With 60 million people worldwide who suffer from chronic disease – and many of whom will require dialysis or a transplant – scientists have long been exploring the possibility of alternative treatments for these patients.Now, breakthrough research suggests that doctors may be able to gather and reprogram a patient’s own kidney cells to treat the disease.  Scientists say this may mean that fewer patients will need to undergo complicated, expensive procedures in the future.

Australian researchers, lead by Sharon Ricardo, PhD, took cells from patients’ individual kidneys and reprogrammed them to be progenitor cells – in other words, cells that are capable of forming other cells.

In a similar study, Miguel Esteban, PhD, found that the same cells can be collected from urine and reprogrammed.

After the cells were reprogrammed, the cells were inserted back into the kidney in order to possibly restore the diseased organ’s health and vitality.

The researchers hope this may pave the way for new curative therapies for people with chronic kidney disease.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.