There are a huge number of people all around the world that are currently very ill and in need of replacement organs. The problem is for some of these people, they will die before a donor organ is available. Scientists around the world are currently working to create alternative ways to get replacement organs for surgical procedures.
One of the methods scientists and researchers are investigating is the ability to grow living organs in a laboratory setting. Scientists in the United States have announced they have been able to successfully grow a rat kidney in the laboratory. The kidney was then transplanted into the rat where it began producing urine.
However, the lab grown kidney is reportedly less effective than a natural kidney. Growing a kidney in the lab is a huge deal because kidneys are the most in-demand organs for transplant and transplant lists for kidneys are some of the longest. The goal of the researchers involved in the project is to be able to take an old kidney and strip it of all the old cells leaving a honeycomb-like scaffolding. The kidney can then be rebuilt with cells taken from the patient.
The major benefit of growing kidney in this manner would be that the cells belong to the patient making rejection less likely. Having cells from the patient will also mean that recipients wouldn't require immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the donated organ. Researchers involved in the project face significant challenges in applying this technique to growing human kidneys. The scientists say that the sheer size of the human kidney will be a challenge on its own. The larger an organ, the more difficult it is to get the cells into the correct location according to the researchers.