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Mice with human cells shed light on kidney disease


Kidney organoid

Researchers in Singapore have made advances in understanding kidney disease by using 'organoids', grown from human kidney cells, and transplanted into live mice.


Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), affecting approximately 1 in 1000 people worldwide, leads to the formation of fluid-filled cysts and kidney malfunction, necessitating dialysis or kidney transplantation. These treatments greatly affect quality of life or come with high costs and potential complications.


To address this, a team of researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) developed so-called kidney organoids, grown from the skin cells of PKD patients, and then successfully transplanted them into mice.


This allowed the team to look at the disease's progression and interaction within a living organism, leading to the discovery that enhancing a specific metabolic process in cells could reduce cyst formation in PKD.


Foo Jia Nee, one of the lead researchers at NTU, said: “The similarity between the disease manifestation observed in our engrafted mini kidney model and the real-life experiences of polycystic kidney disease patients suggest that [this approach] could be beneficial in studying the disease and a useful tool to test new treatments.”


This research – published in Cell Stem Cell – lays the groundwork for further exploration of therapies that enhance this metabolic process, not just for PKD but potentially other genetic and metabolic conditions too.

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