Now, kidneys can be grown in labs.

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Breakthrough Made By Tweaking Stem Cells; May End Organ Shortage For Transplants

London: Scientists claim to have grown kidneys in a laboratory by manipulating stem cells, a major breakthrough which could help tackle the shortage of organs for transplant.

A team at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has actually used stem cells, which are the building blocks of the body, to form the structure of a kidneys.

The newly created organs measure half a centimetre in length — the same size as a kidney in a foetus; and, the team hopes the tiny kidneys will be able to grow to maturity after being transplanted into human bodies, ‘The Scotsman’ reported.

In fact, the kidneys were grown in the lab using a combination of cells from amniotic fluid — the fluid which surrounds all babies in the womb — and animal foetal cells. The technique holds out the prospect of doctors being able to collect amniotic fluid at birth to be stored until needed at a later date if a patient develops kidney disease, say the scientists.

The patient’s own amniotic fluid cells can then be used as the base for creating a new kidney. Using the patient’s own cells will also end the problem of rejection that arises when an organ from a deceased donor is used.

Team leader Prof Jamie Davies said: “The idea is to start with human stem cells and end up with a functioning organ. If you have got a bunch of stem cells sitting in a test tube, that’s a long way from being a beautifully, anatomically organised organ like a kidney that is a complicated structure. “So we are working on how you turn cells floating about in liquid into something as precisely arranged as a kidney. We have made pretty good progress with that. We can make something that has the complexity of a normal, foetal kidney but not an adult one yet.”

To get to the stage where transplants into humans may be possible, research teams in Scotland and the US have been working on the different techniques required.

A team in Michigan has taken embryonic stem cells and manipulated them, using chemicals, to become kidney stem cells. Using a related technique, the scientists in Edinburgh were able to create human kidney cells from human amniotic fluid stem cells combined with animal foetal kidney cells. The scientists now want to work out what signals are being passed between the two cell types to make them become kidneys, so they can achieve the same result using only human amniotic stem cells.

“At the moment we throw amniotic fluid away when babies are born. But if we kept it and froze down the stem cells of everybody born in the UK, there would be cells that could build kidneys waiting for them, frozen, in case they ever needed them.

“It wouldn’t be that expensive. It sounds a bit like science fictionlike, but actually it’s not. Freezing a few cells is cost-effective compared with the cost of keeping someone on dialysis for years,” Davies said. PTI


Heart failure risk tied to kidneys

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Heart failure risk tied to kidneys
Key Renal DNA Sequence Variant Plays Significant Role: Experts

Washington: For the first time, an international team of scientists has discovered a key kidney DNA sequence variant which plays a significant role in increasing the riskof heartfailure.
The DNA variant, a change in a single letter of the DNA sequence which is common in people, impairs channels that control kidney function, the researchers found. “It’s not a heart gene,” said Gerald Dorn, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, whoisthelead author of thestudy.
“It’s a kidney gene. This protein is not even expressed in the heart. Nobody has previously considered that kidney-specific gene defects might predispose you to heart failure.”
Heart failure is diagnosed when theheartcan nolonger provide sufficient blood to the body. It can have a number of causes, including high blood pressure, cancer therapy, viral infections of the heart or heart attack.
But the unexpected findings, publishedin thejournalTheProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighted the advantage of performing genome-wide studies to find DNA sequence variants associated with disease.
“I was surprised by the finding,” says Thomas Cappola, of the University of Pennsylvania Schoolof Medicine,whowas also a lead investigator on the study.
“This is a good example of how taking unbiased approaches to study human disease can lead you to unexpected targets.” PTI

Zap nerves for just one hr, be free of high BP forever

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London: Believe it or not, just an hour’s operation could now “cure” your high blood pressure, claim scientists, after an international study, published in The Lancet journal, found it to be “safe and effective”.
The treatment uses radio waves to zap nerves near the kidneys that fuel high blood pressure. It is done through a tube pushed into a blood vessel in the groin, much like the angioplasty procedures for opening clogged heart arteries.
In a study of about 100 people, the top number of the blood pressure reading fell an average of 33 points among those who had the treatment. Doctors say that is much better than the less-than-10-point drop that many drugs give. The new treatment damages certain nerves and cause key arteries to permanently relax.
“I am extremely interested in this,” said Elliott Antman, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiologist who is vice chairman of the American Heart Association conference in Chicago. Even if the treatment doesn’t wind up being a cure and is only partly successful, that’s still beneficial because these people are at grave risk of heart attacks, strokes and death, and drugs are not helping them enough now, he said.
The fact the treatment also improves blood-sugar control makes it especially attractive for diabetics with high blood pressure. About 75 million Americans and 1 billion people worldwide have high blood pressure — readings of 140 over 90 or more. Most people need three or four drugs to treat it, and only about one-third are well-controlled on medicines. AGENCIES

PERMANENT FIX: The Symplicity Catheter System delivers low-power radio waves to deactivate the nerves near the kidneys that fuel high blood pressure