A technique for generating functional renal organoids that can carry out blood filtering when implanted in experimental animals is reported by researchers at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research. Scientists have previously managed to generate immature kidney tissue for suspensions of embryonic kidney cells, but generating more mature tissues in the lab hasn’t been possible.

Giuseppe Remuzzi, M.D., Christodoulos Xinaris, Ph.D., and colleagues now report on the construction of renal organoids from single-cell suspensions derived from E11.5 kidneys using a method that involved bathing the developing organoids in medium containing blood vessel growth-promoting factors. When the resulting tissues were implanted In living rats and growth factors administered, they formed vascularized glomeruli with fully differentiated capillary walls. The implanted tissues also carried out physiological functions, including tubular reabsorption of macromolecules, and passage of reabsorbed molecules to the tubular lumen on glomerular filtration.

Reporting in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the researchers say the ability to generate vascularized nephrons from single-cell suspensions represents a major step towards the ultimate goal of generating tissue-engineered kidneys. The technology will also prove valuable for research into the causes and mechanisms of complex kidney diseases and provide tissues for screening potential drug compounds.

The team’s published paper is titled “In Vivo Maturation of Functional Renal Organoids Formed from Embryonic Cell Suspensions.”

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