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Can cell therapy replace need for kidney transplant?

New York, March 15 (IANS) Researchers are working on a promising approach for treatment of chronic kidney disease by regeneration of damaged tissues using therapeutic cells.

By harnessing the unique properties of human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells, the team, from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), showed that the cells could potentially help recover organ function in a pre-clinical model of kidney disease.

“Our results indicate that this type of stem cell could be used as an off the shelf universal cell source and may provide an alternative therapeutic strategy for patients suffering from this chronic and debilitating disease,” said senior author James J. Yoo, Professor at the WFIRM, US.

According to researchers, amniotic fluid-derived stem cells can be used as a universal cell source because they have the ability to become different cell types and are anti-inflammatory, making them a potential source for regeneration. 

Unlike pluripotent and adult stem cells, amniotic fluid-derived stem cells are not as likely to provoke an immune system response. Additionally, their use does not lead to risks of tumours or ethical concerns, they added.

For the study, published in the journal Tissue Engineering Part A, the team found that amniotic fluid stem cells injected into a diseased kidney in a pre-clinical model led to improvement of kidney function based on measured waste levels after 10 weeks. 

Biopsy findings showed reduced damage to the cluster of capillaries where waste products are filtered from the blood.

“Our studies demonstrate that treatment with amniotic fluid stem cells had positive effects on functional improvement and structural recovery of the kidney,” said co-author Anthony Atala, from the institution.

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