16 Apr 2013

Kidney transplant research

7:18 am on 16 April 2013

Researchers in the United States have succeeded in making a working kidney and transplanting it into rats.

The team at Massachusetts General Hospital hope the technique can be successfully adapted for human beings.

The BBC reports similar techniques to make simple body parts have already been used in patients, but the kidney is one of the most complicated organs made so far.

Kidneys filter the blood to remove waste and excess water. They are also in high demand for transplant, with long waiting lists.

Lead researcher Dr Harald Ott told the BBC that the potential was huge:

"If you think about the United States alone, there's 100,000 patients currently waiting for kidney transplants and there's only around 18,000 transplants done a year.

"I think the potential clinical impact of a successful treatment would be enormous."

However, a huge amount of further research would be needed before this is even considered in people.

The BBC reports the technique needs to be more efficient so a greater level of kidney function is restored. Researchers also need to prove that the kidney will continue to function for a long time.