Lab-Grown Kidneys Implanted Successfully - In Animals
Dr Takashi Yokoo of the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo has led a team in creating an animal kidney and then implanting it successfully in a laboratory animal.
The newly grown kidneys were created from stem cells, using rats as the incubators for the growing embryonic tissue. The kidneys are grown complete with a drainage tube and bladder for the collection of urine.
The biggest problems the researchers faced were removing urine from the kidneys and avoiding them ballooning up under pressure.
Although the results are very successful, human trials remain a number of years away.
The advent of the artificially grown liver for transplantation was one of the core issues discussed by science fiction writer Larry Niven in his 1968 novel A Gift from Earth. In the novel, a distant space colony develops a dictatorial government that uses "Implementation" - the practice of gathering criminals and dissidents and then taking out their usable organs for transplants. A ship from Earth destroys this system with a shipment of artificially grown organs:
I'm sure we can offer free access to the heartbeasts and liverbeasts and so forth. For a while your colonists will have to come up to the Hospital to get treatment with the ramrobot symbiots, but eventually we can build culture tanks in Gamma and Delta and Eta."
(Read more about Larry Niven's artificially grown organs)
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