Growing kidney diseases in a dish
Scientists in the US have discovered a way to recreate the condition polycystic kidney disease using stem cells in a culture dish. It means that they can grow mini kidney "organoids" that develop changes identical to the real human disease. In patients with polycystic kidney disease, which can't currently be treated or prevented apart from with a kidney transplant, the million or so tiny tubes in the kidney that filter blood swell up to form massive cysts that ultimately compromise kidney function. The new culture system means that the Seattle-based researchers can now begin to screen thousands of potential drug molecules to find ways to prevent the disease from progressing. Chris Smith spoke to lead researcher Ben Freedman, from The University of Washington.