New source of stem cells

Transplants are the last resort for people with kidney problems, but donors are often hard to find, and the procedure is quite invasive. Stem cells are a potential solution, however, additional manipulations for a patient in need of urgent care may pose extra challenges and are often inadvisable. However, researchers may have found a way to retrieve kidney stem cells. 

New research by scientists from Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf found a way to extract kidney stem cells from urine, which was found to contain significant amounts of them. 

Within the research, results of which were published in Scientific Reports journal, the team of scientists took urine samples from 10 subjects of various age and sex and isolated from them so-called “urine-derived renal progenitor cells (UdRPC)”. During the research it was found out that they can differentiate into different types of renal cells and express known markers of kidney stem cells. 

It is interesting to note that UdRPCs are like stem cells found in bone marrow and amniotic fluid. Researchers were also able to reprogram them into another type of stem cells called “induced pluripotent stem cells” or iPSC, which then can be used to get almost any type of tissue in the body. iPSC are usually retried from samples of skin and/or blood, however, an option to extract them from urine opens much more options for treatment.  

Despite that this approach to retrieval of stem cells is in the very early stages, researchers are already talking about potential possibilities in the context of treating renal disorders.

Instead of looking for a potential donor match, in theory, doctors can take urine samples from a patient, separate UdRPCs, grow renal stem cells and transplant them back into the body for them to fix damages inside it.