October 28, 2015
Engineering of new organs (i.e. artificial organogenesis) from pluripotent stem cells represents the holy grail of modern medicine. The number of organ donors and available transplantable tissue is unmatched by the increased global organ demand. Moreover, novel drugs that are being developed are tested first on animals, while obviously any results yielded from such animal experimentation do not reflect on the possible effects in human subjects. Therefore, many efforts are being invested in growing ex-vivo miniature 3-dimentional organ-like structures of various tissues. The human kidney represent such a complex organ, composed of more than 20 cell types, and is responsible for the versatile mechanisms of pH regulation, as well as fluid and electrolyte balance. Engineering of an artificial kidney in the lab necessitate the control of cellular differentiation pathways into different kidney cells, and their composition into a complex microanatomy. As noted above, this process is increasingly challenging in the kidney, since it contains many cell types (the formation of whom is triggered by several specific signaling proteins), and that are formed in different chronologic phases.