MDI Biological Laboratory
MDI Science Café

(Re)Building a Kidney: MDI Bio Lab and the NIH’s project to grow new kidneys for humans

  • June 10, 2024
  • 5:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Hybrid: Maren Auditorium and Zoom

MDI Bio Lab Scientific Director Iain Drummond and Rogosin Institute Scientific Director Leif Oxburgh are leaders in the National Institutes Of Health's $100 million (Re)Building a Kidney (RBK) project to reduce dependence on donor organs.

With more than 30 million people suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) the hunt is on for alternatives to dialysis and the transplantation of donated kidneys. A growing body of research is focused on creating lab-grown kidney tissues that could be implanted in a CKD patient.

Medical and research scientists envision a limitless supply of replacement tissues which, derived from stem cells provided by patients themselves, would be better tolerated by their own immune systems. Researchers are now able to grow small, human kidney tissues called “organoids” and engraft them in a larger mouse kidney. But getting them to fully function? Different story.

“It’s a plumbing problem,” says Drummond, Scientific Director of MDI Bio Lab’s Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Aging. “We know now that we can connect the pipes, at least partially. The issue is getting fluid to flow through.”

It’s one of many challenges of engineering replacement tissue structure and functionality that are being investigated by a consortium of more than 100 scientists in a project called (Re)Building a Kidney, or RBK. The project is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health;  Drummond and Oxburgh are Principal Investigators of a $3.4 million, five-year grant from the program.

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