by Steven Ertelt
June 21, 2005
Tokyo, Japan (LifeNews.com) — Scientists in Japan have been able to cure renal failure in rats with adult stem cells taken from kidneys of healthy rats. They say the same process should be able to work in humans.
The University of Tokyo research team transplanted somatic stem cells from the healthy rats. Such cells are able to develop into a variety of cells in that specific organ.
The team announced their findings in the June 20 issue of the U.S. science magazine, "Journal of Cell Biology."
The doctors involved in the research say that the possibility is strong that the same process can help humans with renal failure because human kidneys have similar somatic stem cells.
"It’s been confirmed that somatic stem cells in kidneys are capable of not only creating new cells but also restoring damaged organs. We may be able to develop drugs aimed at (activating) somatic stem cells," said University of Tokyo Associate Prof. Keiichi Hishikawa.
The research team identified the cells and confirmed that they exist in a part of the rat kidney called the stroma. The cells are also able to develop into blood vessels and renal tubules.
The team transplanted 10,000 cells into the kidneys of rats with renal failure and tests seven days later found that the kidney functions returned to normal.
In the article, the Japanese researchers say the cells repaired damaged kidney cells and noted that the number of new stem cells decreased to about 30 percent after the repair work was done.
The team found similar stem cells in the kidneys of human patients at the University of Tokyo hospital.
If successful in humans, the adult stem cell therapy could help millions of patients worldwide who currently undergo artificial dialysis.