Regenerative Medicine Or Last Year’s Science Fiction Becomes The Future’s Science

It’s Monday again and I found a slew of interesting comments just waiting for me when I came to the blog.  The material, as I just wrote, was interesting but I can’t comment on them in the blog because each and every one of them contained advertisements.  I am uncomfortable endorsing any product I haven’t either tried myself or researched. I’m wondering if any of the people who sent these informative comments that contained advertisements would be interested in offering the information without the advertisements. I, on my part, would be more than willing to consider running guest blogs after I have the time to review the information.

July 4th, Independence Day, is Wednesday. The picture below, one I took at Niagara Falls, somehow epitomizes independence to me – something about how freely and differently each drop of water makes the fall.  There’s another kind of independence down the pike for us – independence from the dialysis that is the only alternative now for ESRD sufferers.

Okay, now get ready to be amazed and learn a new word: “Podocytes are found only in the kidney and are an integral structural component of its blood-filtering system. They stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a part of the organ called the glomerulus {as CKD patients, that word should be more than familiar} and wrap their long ‘feet’ {pod is Greek for foot, just as ped is Latin for root} around the semi-permeable capillaries through which blood flows. Narrow slits between the feet allow small molecules, such as water and salts, to pass while blocking large proteins {sound familiar?}…’The implication is that podocytes may utilize recognized pathways of regeneration to renew themselves throughout life,’ said Artandi (associate professor of medicine Steven Artandi, MD, PhD. and senior author of the study). People suffering from chronic kidney disease {that’s us} may simply have worn out or outpaced their podocytes’ capacity for renewal, he believes.

Now that the researchers know podocytes have the ability {to}regenerate in response to common cellular signals, their next step is to learn whether this regeneration occurs in healthy animals and people. ‘If we can harness this regeneration,’ Artandi said, ‘we may one day be able to treat people with chronic kidney disease.'”

According to the article, there is a possibility in the future of coaxing our own bodies to produce more of these podocytes to replace those that have died. This is another new way of treating chronic kidney disease.  Add this to cloning, artificial kidneys, external mechanical kidneys and the future holds just so many more options than three different types of dialysis.  I, for one, am so encouraged I can feel my heart leaping in my chest (well, maybe not, but I am super encouraged.)

The entire article can be found at:  http://www.medindia.net/news/Hope-for-Treating-Chronic-Kidney-Disease-Via-Regeneration-of-Specialized-Cells-94388-1.htm#ixzz1zUXL2jok

In the same vein {Get it? Medical term? Vein?}, are you aware that kidneys can be 3D printed?  I had to read that sentence twice myself.  Then I started wondering WHY even bother making a 3D print of a kidney.  Read on Wake Forest University’s Anthony Atala explains :

“For example, the talk {above the transcript at the address below} highlights our still-experimental work to engineer a human kidney. Being able to replace solid organs such as the heart, liver, kidney {note that – kidney} and pancreas is considered the ‘holy grail’ of tissue engineering. That’s why we’re pursuing multiple strategies in this area: cell therapies, tissue ‘inserts’ to augment an organ’s function, and ‘printing’ replacement organs.

At TED {TED stands for Technology, Entertainment Design}, we demonstrated 3-D printing technology, already used in a variety of industries — from auto parts to concrete structures. Our goal, or course, is to apply the technology to organs. The project is based on earlier research in which we engineered miniature kidneys {hurray!} using biomaterials and cells. In animals, these structures were shown to be functional, in that they were able to filter blood and produce dilute urine.

This printer, while still experimental, is being explored for organs such as the kidney {ahem} and structured tissue such as the ear. The ultimate goal is to use patient data, such as from a CT scan, to create a computer model of the organ we want to print. This model would be used to guide the printer as it layer-by-layer prints a replacement organ made up of cells and the biomaterials to hold the cells together. ”

The entire article is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/printing-organs_n_1160307.html

The FDA is on board, too, with their Innovation Pathway program which was launched in 2010 to reduce the time and cost of bringing safe and effective breakthrough technologies to patients.These three aimed at kidney patients were approved earlier this year:

  •  An implantable Renal Assist Device being developed by the University of California, San Francisco.
  • A Wearable Artificial Kidney in development by Blood Purification Technologies Inc. of Beverly Hills, Calif. {discussed in a blog last month}
  • A Hemoaccess Valve System that has been designed by Greenville, S.C.-based CreatiVasc Medical.
You can read more at: http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/fda-clears-path-new-kidney-disease-tech/2012-04-10?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss#ixzz1zUj6DUAk
 
 
The future for chronic kidney disease patients is almost here and it is encouraging.  For now, there’s always my book.
Until next week,
Keep living your life!
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