Israeli nephrologist at Sheba Medical Center uncovers new findings about reversing kidney disease.
Featured photo by Roland Metzger
A groundbreaking study has shown that it is possible to rejuvenate damaged kidneys and improve their function, a procedure that could reverse chronic kidney disease, offsetting the need for dialysis. This is the first breakthrough in decades to combat this disease, often precipitated by hypertension and diabetes, and which affects a whopping 10 percent of the population worldwide.
The study was conducted by Professor Benjamin Dekel, head of Pediatric Nephrology and the Pediatric Stem Cell Research Institute in the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center. It was published in the Cell Reports medical journal.
In past studies, researchers discovered that the adult kidney constantly renews itself over time through the activity of colonies of cells that replace lost and degenerated cells in the kidney.
Dekel and his team have developed technology that involves the extraction of such healthy kidney cells from diseased kidneys. These cells are then expanded into large numbers within a laboratory environment.
By generation of three-dimensional cultures called “kidney spheres,” the cells show improved function to generate new kidney tissue and replace lost cells. The new cells are then reintroduced into the kidney where they rebuild it, positively influencing neighboring cells and improving its function.
The technology uses the patient’s own cells, thereby circumventing the need for immunosuppression as well as problems associated with immune rejection.
The method has been tested on mice, which displayed improved renal function. By focusing on improving and stabilizing renal function, this treatment has the potential to help millions of patients with chronic kidney disease and who have yet to require dialysis treatment.
Clinical trials on patients with renal failure will be conducted by the KidneyCure Bio firm, which commercialized this technology.
“This is important news for patients with chronic kidney disease, who hopefully will benefit from these discoveries in the coming years,” Dekel said. “The ability to generate new kidney tissue (to replace the damaged tissue) could help millions of patients worldwide who suffer from kidney disease.”