Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mini Kidney

Mini kidneys grown from cells found in urine function like real kidneys

22 August 2019

Mini Kidney

To learn the complex workings of a race car engine from scratch, it’s easiest to first study a much simpler machine, like a lawnmower engine. The two don’t look much alike, but the principles match up. In the same way, these three shapes might not look much like kidneys, but they can teach us a lot about how kidneys work. They are organoids – lab-grown miniature replicas of key organ components. They are often made from embryonic cells, but a new study has formed them from adult cells in urine, making custom models for individual patients possible, so new personalised drug approaches might be tested. Initial tests showed the organoids filtering material just like real kidneys (each one stained different colours to help reveal the functioning structures and their activities), and revealed that they respond to disease just like the real thing, so they could be a valuable tool for investigating disease.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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