By Kaitlyn Schaeffer
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have made a breakthrough for regenerative medicine. One of the most serious problems associated with getting artificial kidneys to function in the body of a recipient is the tendency of the recipient’s blood vessels to close, preventing the transplanted organ from receiving blood. The scientists, using human-sized pig kidneys, have developed the most successful method to date of keeping these blood vessels open.
“Until now, lab-built kidneys have been rodent-sized and have functioned for only one or two hours after transplantation because blood clots developed,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director and professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and senior author of the study. “In our proof-of-concept study, the vessels in a human-sized pig kidney remained open during a four-hour testing period. We are now conducting a longer-term study to determine how long flow can be maintained.”
This new method owes its success in part to its ability to more effectively coat the vessels with cells that keep the blood flowing smoothly. If the method continues to work, it could be applied to other complex organs, such as the liver and the pancreas, that scientists are attempting to build in the lab.
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