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Study Shows Promise Of Creating Mini Kidneys –

The team collected amniotic fluid from 12 pregnancies and managed to extract different types of stem cells (special cells from the body that can transform into different cell types) from the lungs, kidneys and intestines; they were then able to grow organoids that that mimicked the babies’ developing organs. This is the first time that organoids have been grown from human stem cells during an active pregnancy. 

This research was supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and the European Commission Horizon 2020 Programme. Dr Mattia Gerli and Kidney Research UK-funded PhD student Kylin Yunyan Sun in their team, carried out the kidney section of this work. Mattia said: “The organoids we created from amniotic fluid cells exhibit many of the functions of the organs that they represent. They will allow us to study what is happening during development in both health and disease, which is something that hadn’t been possible before. We know so little about late human pregnancy, so it’s incredibly exciting to open up this new area of medicine.” 

Professor Paolo de Coppi, senior author of the study from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “When we meet families with a prenatal diagnosis, we’re often unable to tell them much about the outcome because each case is different. We’re not claiming that we can do that just yet, but the ability to study functional prenatal organoids is the first step towards being able to offer a more detailed prognosis and, hopefully, provide more effective treatments in future.”