Stem Cells

By Professor Melissa Little

Theme Director of Cell Biology and heads the Kidney Research laboratory at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Researchers move one step closer towards functioning kidney tissue from stem cells.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) are one step closer towards making human kidneys from stem cells that they one day hope can be used to treat kidney disease!

This research, led by MCRI’s Professor Melissa Little in collaboration with The University of Melbourne and Leiden University Medical Centre is part of a regenerative medicine project in which human stem cells are used to develop kidneys with functioning tissue as an alternative for renal replacement.

In 2015, Prof Little and her team grew kidney tissue from stem cells that can be used in drug screening and disease modelling. Researchers across the globe now use this method.

In this new research, scientists transplanted the stem-cell derived kidney organoid under the protective layer surrounding the kidney of a living mouse. They were able to see blood flow through the filtration units of the human kidney organoid by making this tissue using gene-edited stem cells lines of different colours. After four weeks of transplantation, the kidney tubules and blood vessels showed evidence of fully developed adult kidney tissue.

“The fact that we can make kidney tissue from human stem cells and have this develop into mature kidney tissue after transplantation is a very promising step towards developing this further for treatment,” said Prof Little. “There is a long way to go to make the tissue large enough for treatment, but knowing that it will begin to function is an important step along the way.”