Brain and Muscle Cells Observed Within Lab-Grown Kidney Organoids

Brain and Muscle Cells Observed Within Lab-Grown Kidney Organoids

Nowadays kidney problems are at its peak and scientists are working hard to overcome the issue. They have been currently focusing on the lab-grown kidney cells. They expect to grow organoids which will help the damaged kidneys in the patients or to be used in such drugs that will help the person to fight kidney disease.

The new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has discovered the rogue brain and muscle cells within the kidney organoids. These type of cells although only make 10 to 20% of the organoids but in an attempt to coax the stem cells into kidney cells, it is also churning out the other cell types.

At first glance, it might appear after this discovery that kidney organoids can’t be further used for the treatment but still there is some hope. The scientists have discovered a simple way to prevent the wayward cells from appearing, this theory can be also applied to the rogue cells in the organoids of brain, lung, and heart.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for growing organoids as models for diseases that affect people. But scientists haven’t fully appreciated that some of the cells that make up those organoids may not mimic what we would find in people,” said senior author Benjamin D. Humphreys, MD, Ph.D., director of the Division of Nephrology.

“The good news is that with a simple intervention, we could block most of the rogue cells from growing. This should really accelerate our progress in making organoids better models for human kidney disease and drug discovery, and the same technique could be applied to targeting rogue cells in other organoids.”

One of the most challenging thing to while using kidney organoids is to take care of the kidney failure patients. There are around 500,000 kidney dialysis patients at the end stage in the United States.

“Developing kidney organoids is driven by the reality that we have so many patients with failing kidneys and no effective drugs to offer them,” said Humphreys, who is also the Joseph Friedman Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine.

For carrying out the study the researchers studied the two methods scientists use for lab growing organoids. One begins with the embryonic stem while the other one begins with pluripotent cells. By using several growth factors and drugs the scientists grew the kidney organoids from the stem cells.

For observing the cells, instead of using spot check they used cell RNA sequencing method to observe the role of millions of genes found in 83,130 cells from 65 kidney organoids.

“This generates massive amounts of data, and there’s no way our brains can make sense of it all,” Humphreys explained. “But computers can easily compare gene activity across 83,000 cells and, using artificial intelligence, group cell types together based on their gene expression. So rather than looking for cells that we think we thought we’d find in the organoid, it helped us find cells even if we’d never imagined they’d be there.”

What they observed was a little astonishing, they found that some of the cells around 10 to 20% failed to develop and instead of forming kidney cells became brain and muscle cells. However by keen studying the process again step by step the scientists blocked the development of off-target cells and were able to reduce the number of brain cells by 90%. Now, this technique can be used by other scientists to reduce the number of rogue cells in other organoids.


Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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