Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have successfully managed to grow a miniature human kidney in a lab by using the latest cutting edge bioprinting technology. They believe their breakthrough could pave the way for new treatments for kidney failure and even possibly lab-grown transplants.
The new bioprinting technique is faster, more reliable and allows the whole process to be scaled up. Researchers believe this method could be able to create as many as 200 mini-kidneys in 10 minutes without compromising quality.
The method researchers used to grow their mini-kidneys is called ‘extrusion-based 3D bioprinting’ and uses a ‘bio-ink’ made from a stem cell paste which is then squeezed out through a computer-guided pipette to create artificial living tissue in a dish.
The lab-grown mini-kidneys can be ‘printed’ in a variety of sizes, ranging from a grain of rice to the size of a fingernail. They also fully resemble a regular-sized kidney, including the tiny tubes and blood vessels that form the organ’s filtering structures called nephrons.
During the study, researchers used 3D bioprinted human-made kidneys to screen the toxicity of aminoglycosides, a class of antibiotics that is known to cause kidney damage.
— 10 News First Melbourne (@10NewsFirstMelb) November 24, 2020
“Drug-induced injury to the kidney is a major side effect and difficult to predict using animal studies. Bioprinting human kidneys are a practical approach to testing for toxicity before use,” said MCRI Professor Melissa Little.