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Pluripotent cell-derived nephron progenitor cells and self-organizing 3D structures

Differentiation of pluripotent cells into nephron progenitors could help model and treat renal diseases. A three-step, ex vivo differentiation protocol involving culture in growth factors including activin A and bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) or a wingless-type MMTV integration site (WNT) agonist followed by fibroblast growth factor 9
(FGF9; GAF) converted human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into nephron progenitor cells. Differentiated hESCs self-organized into nephron-forming structures ex vivo. The process was similar to what occurs with dissociated then reaggregated mouse embryonic kidneys. Next steps could include developing the system for nephrotoxicity screens, ex vivo disease modeling and the generation of transplantable organoids.

SciBX 7(3); doi:10.1038/scibx.2014.102
Published online Jan. 23, 2014

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Takasato, M. et al. Nat. Cell Biol.; published online Dec. 15, 2013;
Contact: M.H. Little, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia