The nephrons are the key filtering units of the kidneys. The amount of nephrons we’re born with turns out to be a very important number for kidney health. We can’t grow more after birth and those people born with substantially fewer nephrons are at a higher risk of developing blood pressure and kidney problems later in life. Finding a way to grow new nephrons would be an exciting new therapy to tackle the epidemic of kidney disease. Researchers from University of Queensland in Australia are paving the way to do just that. They have successfully reprogrammed adult kidney cells to act as early nephron cells or nephron progenitors after identifying six genes instrumental to the process. While their research is in the very early stages, this breakthrough could lead to treatments to repair and regenerate damaged kidneys and prevent kidney disease in at-risk children born with a small number of nephrons.
Direct Transcriptional Reprogramming of Adult Cells to Embryonic Nephron Progenitors, JASN, June 13, 2013
Research Reprograms Future of Kidney Health, The University of Queensland, June 14, 2013