Tens of thousands of patients worldwide (669 of themin Israel) are waiting in line for a kidney transplant operation. Many of them die without waiting for the required operation. The wait for transplantation can last for years, but even when a suitable donor is found, there is a risk that the patient’s body will be rejected by the organ transplanted to him. A team of researchers from the Shiba Medical Center is developing a treatment method in which stem cells of a kidney tissue are transplanted into a patient with chronic or oncological kidney disease. This method can replace a transplant operation.
The work is carried out in the research departmentpediatric stem cells under the guidance of prof. Benjamin Dekel, Leading Specialist and Nephrologist at the Children's Hospital Edmond and Lily Safra, part of the Chaim Sheba Hospital. The main goal of the project is to develop a method for the treatment of chronic renal failure, in which the patient is transplanted with his own stem cells taken from a healthy area of renal tissue. Such cells undergo artificial growth and reproduction, and then are transplanted into the patient’s kidney and thus heal the affected kidney tissue.
According to prof. Dekel, this modern method of cell therapy will make it possible in the future to reduce the need for transplantation operations when a whole kidney is transplanted to a patient. “This is a scientific study that will allow patients with chronic renal failure to avoid dialysis and further kidney transplants. Stem cells can be obtained from the kidney tissue of the patient himself in the early stages of the disease, but the kidney cells of the undeveloped embryo (in the case of a miscarriage) or tumor tissue artificially grown in laboratory conditions can also be their source - such cells are transplanted to the patient, from whom it is impossible to obtain their own stem cells, ”explains prof. Dekel. Scientists managed to analyze the cells of the kidney tissue at the molecular level. They first developed a technique that allows the determination of stem cells of renal tissue by protein markers on the cell surface. Using this technique, scientists hope, it will be possible to isolate stem cells from healthy kidney tissue of an embryo or adult and then transplant them into a patient. It is assumed that such cells are able to integrate into pathologically altered renal tissue and improve the functional activity of the kidney.
Currently, the effectiveness of the methodchecked by experiments on laboratory mice. “I am full of hope that not many years will pass, and as a result of intensive work in the framework of our research, we will be able to bring good news to patients with kidney diseases,” summarizes prof. Dekel.
Amos Menache, a 53-year-old resident of Netanya, likemany other patients have been waiting their turn for a kidney transplant for two years now. “Every two days I have to come to the hospital for 4 hours in order to undergo a dialysis procedure,” says Menashe. “I wish scientists success in their work. I hope that the results of their work will bring us good news, and let this happen as soon as possible. Suddenly, the time will really come when there will be no need for dialysis units, ”Menashe said yesterday.