New kidneys for old: a challenge for surgery and tissue engineering
January 2019: Public lecture series "Let's Talk About Health and Disease"
Following an introduction from Peter Matheson (Principal of the University), Lorna Marson (Centre for Inflammation Research) described how kidney transplantation was performed and discussed some of the challenges of kidney transplantation, including tissue matching for surgery and supply and demand for donated organs. Lorna highlighted the progress that had been made towards matching the number of available kidneys with those patients in need of a donated kidney. There were two short presentations by a kidney donor and a kidney recipient (Craig Lumsdaine and Paul Lynch) which provided a very moving account of some of the difficulties of living with kidney failure and the lows and highs associated with kidney transplantation.
Finally, Jamie Davies (Centre for Integrative Physiology) gave an overview of how an approach called Tissue Engineering could be used to generate kidney-like structures from stem cells in cell culture dishes. This technique may provide opportunities for testing current and newly developed therapeutics for potential side-effects upon kidney function. Jamie also showed how this approach can produce very small, immature kidneys in culture that can nevertheless filter blood when transplanted into adult host animals.
The eventual aim would be to produce working, transplantable kidneys from stem cells derived from patients to overcome problems with tissue rejection and lack of suitable donor kidneys.