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Can stem cell technique help in kidney transplant?

Q: Is stem cell research being done to develop kidneys for transplant? Will they reduce the chances of rejections on transplanted kidneys and bring down the costs of post transplant procedures? How long will it take to be a common site for such transplants?

A:Regenerative medicine using stem cells extracted from bone marrow has so far been put to limited practical use such as for producing skin and cartilage. But until recently the researchers have rarely been able to regenerate organs. In what is believed to be a major breakthrough, a team of stem cell researchers from Japan have cloned a human kidney by cultivating human stem cells extracted from adult bone marrow into rat embryos. This unprecedented development is expected to increase the possibility of expanding regenerative medicine to anatomically complicated organs such as the kidney. Clearly, such cloned kidneys would face significantly less risk of rejection and thereby alleviate the need for potent rejection drugs. This application of regenerative medicine is expected to outstrip the staggering shortage of human organs faced by prospective organ recipients since a substantial number of those waiting to receive an organ die while awaiting a transplant. Since potential barriers attached with its therapeutic application remain unknown, it would be far too speculative to put down the time line for its availability to clinical medicine but from historical perspective such developments may sometime take up to 10 years to become available to the consumer. Certainly, with the reduction in immunosupprression requirements and its attendant complications, the impact on cost reduction is expected to be substantial.


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