Transplantation is usually the last option for people with kidney problems, but not only is it difficult to find a suitable donor, but the organ is quite invasive after the transplant,media reported. Treating kidney disease with stem cells is an option, but obtaining these cells requires a biopsy.
In response, the researchers have now isolated and studied kidney stem cells from urine samples, which may be an easier way to collect.
Because stem cells have amazing healing power, they are expected to be a way to repair damage or fight disease. The best sources of adult stem cells are bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid, but they all have their own problems. The extraction of stem cells from the bone marrow is painful and invasive, while the rest can only be obtained after delivery and needs to be obtained immediately.
In the new study, researchers from Heinrich Heinea University studied a non-invasive method of collecting kidney stem cells. Typically, researchers need to pass a live tissue test, but previous studies have shown that large numbers of stem cells are actually excreted through urine.
The team took samples from 10 people of different ages, including men and women, and isolated so-called urinary-derived renal precursor cells (UdRPCs). They found that these cells can differentiate into various types of kidney cells and express known signs of kidney stem cells.
Interestingly, UdRPCs seem to be similar to stem cells in bone marrow and amniotic fluid. In addition, the researchers were able to reprogram it into another form of induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), which can be used to make almost any cell in the human body. IPSCs are usually obtained from blood or skin samples, but it is easier to get them from urine.
Although the technology is still in its early stages, researchers say it could lead to new ways to treat kidney disease. Instead of looking for organ donors and transplanting a new kidney, doctors can take urine samples from patients, collect their UdRPCs, grow a new batch of kidney stem cells, and then transplant them into organs for damage repair.