WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. May 20, 2013 Nearly 20 percent of kidneys that are recovered from deceased donors in the U.S. are refused for transplant due to factors ranging from scarring in small blood vessels of the kidney's filtering units to the organ going too long without blood or oxygen. But, what if instead of being discarded, these organs could be "recycled" to help solve the critical shortage of donor organs?
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and colleagues, reporting in the journal Biomaterials, found that human kidneys discarded for transplant can potentially serve as a natural "scaffolding material" for manufacturing replacement organs in the lab using regenerative medicine techniques.
According to the authors, more than 2,600 donor kidneys are discarded each year in the U.S. "With about 100,000 people in the U.S. awaiting kidney transplants, it is devastating when an organ is donated but cannot be used," said Giuseppe Orlando, M.D., Ph.D., lead author, a Wake Forest Baptist transplant surgeon and regenerative medicine researcher. "These discarded organs may represent an ideal platform for investigations aimed at manufacturing kidneys for transplant."
The research involved pumping a mild detergent through kidneys that were refused for transplant. The goal of the process, called decellularization, is to remove all cells leaving only the organ structure or "skeleton," known in regenerative medicine terms as a scaffold. Ultimately, the patient's own cells could be placed in this scaffold, creating a customized organ that the patient theoretically would not reject.
In fact, an analysis of the decellularized organs revealed that antigens likely to cause an immune response were removed in the cleaning process. "This finding has significant implications," said Orlando. "It indicates that transplantation of such customized kidneys could be performed without the need for anti-rejection therapy. In addit
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Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center