Could Kidney Repair Require the Use of Stem Cells?

Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have shown that it could actually be possible for the kidneys to repair themselves in some cases. This gives quite a bit of hope to those who are suffering from kidney malfunction and related issues. Before the doctors discovered this, they thought that the kidney cells needed scattered stem cell populations in order to heal, but the new research suggests that the mature cells in the kidney may be capable of healing on their own.

Research is showing that the cells in the kidney can actually multiply several times over as a means to help repair the kidney. They tagged mature kidney cells in mice that did not have stem cell markers and observed them. The thought was that these cells would not do anything after an injury, other than perhaps die. The results were exciting, as it showed that those mature cells actually had the capacity to heal. Previously, they believed that it required stem cells to heal properly.

This research is showing similar findings to a previous study that looked at the cells of the adrenal glands and found that they were able to regenerate naturally and without the need to add stem cells.

Researchers hope to use this discovery when it comes to helping those who have suffered from some type of kidney injury. While the research is still new, and there will likely need to be more studies done, it is showing quite a bit of promise. They want to find drugs that will be able to speed up the natural process that can occur in the body. This can help the kidney cells to respond more quickly after injury. This will speed up healing, and it could reduce the formation of scar tissue on the kidneys, which could lead to other issues.

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http://hsci.harvard.edu/news/kidney-repair-may-not-require-stem-cells

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Climate Change and Kidney Stones

You’ve heard of kidney stones. You’ve heard of climate change. These two things should not go together like peanut butter and chocolate. However, some research is showing that they may actually have a correlation, as strange as it might seem. According to a piece in Scientific American, when the temperatures went up to 30 degrees C, the risk of kidney stones presenting in patients within 20 days went up by 38% in Atlanta. This rose by 26% in Dallas, and 47% in Philly.

Doctors have seen an increase in both men and women, even those who have not had a history of kidney stones. 

Other research, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, looked at the correlation between higher temperatures and instances of kidney stones as well. Their results indicated that the changing climate actually did cause an effect on the human body, in this case, with kidney stones. Since the world is warming up, it could mean an overall increase in the number of patients who are suffering from this condition.

Studies across different cities showed much the same thing, even though there were some small differences, naturally. However, when the temperature would go up, it meant that the number of cases of kidney stones tended to go up in the city as well.

Interestingly, when the temperatures dropped too much, the same thing happened. This makes it difficult to pick up on trends unless someone is actually looking hard at all of the data. One of the reasons that doctors feel the problem presents itself is that people dehydrate, and don’t really realize it right away. If you aren’t drinking enough water, it can cause dehydration and kidney stones. These relatively sudden temperature changes could mean that many people simply aren’t aware of their own hydration levels at the time.

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/kidney-stone-risk-creeps-north-as-climate-changes/

Our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, we recommend you work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

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Cash for Kidneys

When a kidney fails, the patient needs to have a kidney transplant as soon as possible. Machines can only do so much work. In 2012 alone, 95,000 people in the United States were waiting for a kidney transplant. However, nowhere near that number of kidneys was available for transplant. In fact, that year, only about 16,000 kidney transplants occurred. It takes more than four and a half years to get a kidney transplant, and this unfortunately means that a large number of people will die on this waiting list. 

Those who are living without healthy kidneys are often getting sicker by the day. It is taking a toll on both their health and the wellbeing of their families. Dialysis can only help for so long, and those who are on dialysis have a hard time trying to hold down a job, which can make paying for treatment nearly impossible.

The situation is actually getting worse, too. Just a couple of years ago, fewer people were on the waiting list, and it took nowhere near as long to get a kidney. What can we do about this problem? Well, we can’t start stealing kidneys and leaving people in bathtubs full of ice, no matter what all the urban legends might say. Instead, the country needs to find a way to increase the number of organs available in a legal and ethical manner.

People only need to have one kidney to live a normal and healthy life. This means that if more people were willing to donate kidneys, it could help reduce the wait time for a kidney transplant, and increase the chance of those patients recovering and living a long and healthy life. However, no one would expect someone to give away a kidney. A healthy topic for debate – some have suggested it could be a good idea to institute a cash for kidneys program.

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http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304149404579322560004817176

Our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, we recommend you work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

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Kidney Grown in Lab Working Well in Rats

At first, it might sound like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, but it’s much more interesting than that could ever hope to be. In fact, if this works in more experiments, it could change the lives of many who have kidney problems and who are awaiting transplants right now. We know that in the United States alone, close to a hundred thousand people are waiting for kidneys. Now, kidneys engineered in the lab are able to produce about a third as much urine as our natural kidneys.

The bioengineered organs, when placed in rodents, were actually able to filter the blood and produce urine successfully. The method of bioengineering, created by Harald Ott, a specialist in organ regeneration, has been around since 2008, but it is now showing even more promise. He and his team have been able to use the same techniques to create hearts and lungs.

Even though the research really is still relatively new and it will take a long time to move up to humans, there is quite a bit of excitement surrounding this. It has the potential to erase the wait list for people who need to have kidneys. Because they will become relatively simple to grow, it should also help to cut down the costs.

They have the potential to scale up and create human kidneys without a need to match genetically. They feel that they may even be able to use “scaffolding” from animals to create bioengineered kidneys for people. With this method, there is very little risk that the human will reject the kidney. This is still a very real danger when it comes to traditional kidney transplants. It is still a long way from becoming a reality in humans, but it does seem as though we are on our way. 

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lab-grown-kidneys-transplanted-into-rats-and-become-functional/

Our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, we recommend you work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

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Blood Biomarker Found for Progressive Kidney Disease

Researchers have developed a new test, which is still in the midst of getting approval from the FDA, which can test whether a person who has a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes is also at risk for kidney failure. People who are suffering from diabetes have a much higher risk of running into kidney problems, and this test could make it easy for their doctors to determine whether they need to be considering treatments for kidney disease as well.

If doctors were able to use the test and learn that a person is at risk right away, even before there are any signs and symptoms of kidney failure, then it would mean that they could start treatment earlier. This gives them the potential to halt the progressive worsening of the kidneys that so many patients experience.

The researchers who discovered the blood biomarkers that would make the test possible hope that the FDA approves the use of the test and that doctors start to use it on all of their Type 1 patients. This has the potential to be more accurate than the tests that are out there now. The test looks for a protein called KIM-1. This stands for kidney injury molecule 1. They’ve found that patients who have worsening kidney problems usually have elevated levels of the protein in their system.

They are also looking to see whether their KIM-1 test will be able to detect other types of kidney problems as well. For example, they are hoping that the test could help detect things such as kidney tumors. This means that the test could become even more important to kidney health.

A number of different organizations were involved in this research, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Liverpool, and the University of Edinburgh.

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http://hsci.harvard.edu/news/researchers-identify-first-blood-biomarker-progressive-kidney

Our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, we recommend you work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

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