12:00 AM
Apr 25, 2013
 |  BC Innovations  |  Tools & Techniques

Regenerating the kidney

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that their previously described platform for creating transplantable bioengineered organs from decellularized matrices can be used to create a functional kidney.1 The researchers are refining the process to improve kidney functionality and hope to begin large-animal testing within five years.

In the U.S., the kidney is the most commonly transplanted organ and the one for which there are the highest numbers of patients on waiting lists, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network website.

Decellularization is a process in which detergents and enzymes are used to remove cells from an organ or piece of tissue. What remains is an extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffold that retains both the 3D architecture of the original part and the associated vascular networks, which can then be seeded with cells to create bioengineered organs and tissues.2

In 2008, MGH's Harald Ott and collaborators at the University of Minnesota first reported on the use of their platform to engineer a beating rat heart from a decellularized heart ECM.3 His group has since reported on the creation of bioengineered lungs and pancreases.4,5

"Our ongoing work is focused on showing that our approach is a platform technology and not just applicable to a single organ," said Ott, a fellow in cardiothoracic surgery at MGH and an instructor in surgery at HMS.

Although replacement bladders and tracheas built upon decellularized matrices have been tested in patients by investigators and companies such as

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