Adult Stem Cells Can Change to Kidney Cells, Study Says

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LONDON, JULY 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Stem cells from bone marrow can change into kidney cells and may provide a new way to treat kidney disease that could reduce the need for transplants, scientists say.



Stem cells are master cells in the body that can transform into most other cell types. Researchers at Britain´s Imperial Cancer Research Fund showed that kidney cells can be derived from stem cells in bone marrow.

"Until now people weren´t entirely sure how the kidney took care of its normal wear and tear. People assumed that it was all done within the kidney. What we´ve shown is that cells from outside the kidney are able to contribute to the repair process," molecular biologist Richard Poulsom said in an interview with Reuters.

The finding opens up the possibility of using a patient´s own bone marrow stem cells to repair or replace kidney cells destroyed through disease or injury. It could also pave the way for using bone marrow stem cells containing genes resistant to cancer or other diseases to protect the kidney from further damage.

Scientists believe stem cells could revolutionize medicine and provide new therapies for diseases like Alzheimer´s and diabetes and severe injuries.

Poulsom and his colleagues studied adult bone marrow stem cells in mice and humans. Their research is published in the Journal of Pathology Online.