[GRG] Milestone reached in work to build replacement kidneys


Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Milestone reached in work to build replacement kidneys in the lab

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Sept. 9, 2014 – Regenerative medicine
researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have addressed a
major challenge in the quest to build replacement kidneys in the
lab. Working with human-sized pig kidneys, the scientists developed
the most successful method to date to keep blood vessels in the new
organs open and flowing with blood. The work is reported in journal

“Until now, lab-built kidneys have been rodent-sized and have
functioned for only one or two hours after transplantation because
blood clots developed,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director and
professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
and a senior author on the study. “In our proof-of-concept study,
the vessels in a human-sized pig kidney remained open during a four-
hour testing period. We are now conducting a longer-term study to
determine how long flow can be maintained.”

If proven successful, the new method to more effectively coat the
vessels with cells (endothelial) that keep blood flowing smoothly,
could potentially be applied to other complex organs that
scientists are working to engineer, including the liver and

The current research is part of a long-term project to use pig
kidneys to make support structures known as “scaffolds” that could
potentially be used to build replacement kidneys for human patients
with end-stage renal disease. Scientists first remove all animal
cells from the organ – leaving only the organ structure or
“skeleton.” A patient’s own cells would then be placed in the
scaffold, making an organ that the patient theoretically would not

The cell removal process leaves behind an intact network of blood
vessels that can potentially supply the new organ with oxygen.
However, scientists working to repopulate kidney scaffolds with
cells have had problems coating the vessels and severe clotting has
generally occurred within a few hours after transplantation.

The Wake Forest Baptist scientists took a two-pronged approach to
address this problem. First, they evaluated four different methods
of introducing new cells into the main vessels of the kidney
scaffold. They found that a combination of infusing cells with a
syringe, followed by a period of pumping cells through the vessels
at increasing flow rates, was most effective.

Next, the research team coated the scaffold’s vessels with an
antibody designed to make them more “sticky” and to bind
endothelial cells. Laboratory and imaging studies — as well as
tests of blood flow in the lab – showed that cell coverage of the
vessels was sufficient to support blood flow through the entire
kidney scaffold.

The final test of the dual-approach was implanting the scaffolds in
pigs weighing 90 to 110 pounds. During a four-hour testing period,
the vessels remained open.

“Our cell seeding method, combined with the antibody, improves the
attachment of cells to the vessel wall and prevents the cells from
being detached when blood flow is initiated,” said In Kap Ko,
Ph.D., lead author and instructor in regenerative medicine at Wake
Forest Baptist.

The scientists said a long-term examination is necessary to
sufficiently conclude that blood clotting is prevented when
endothelial cells are attached to the vessels.

The scientists said if the new method is proven successful in the
long-term, the research brings them an important step closer to the
day when replacement kidneys can be built in the lab.

“The results are a promising indicator that it is possible to
produce a fully functional vascular system that can deliver
nutrients and oxygen to engineered kidneys, as well as other
engineered organs,” said Ko.

Using pig kidneys as scaffolds for human patients has several
advantages, including that the organs are similar in size and that
pig heart valves – removed of cells – have safety been used in
patients for more than three decades.


This study was supported, in part, by Telemedicine and Advanced
Technology Research Center at the U.S. Army Medical Research and
Materiel Command.

Co-researchers were Mehran Abolbashari, M.D., Jennifer Huling,
B.S., Cheil Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Sayed-Hadi Mirmalek-Sani, Ph.D.,
Mahmoudreza Moradi, M.D., Giuseppe Orlando, M.D., John D. Jackson,
Ph.D., Tamer Aboushwareb, M.D., Shay Soker, Ph.D., and Anthony
Atala, M.D., all with

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is a fully integrated academic
medical center located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The
institution comprises the medical education and research components
of Wake Forest School of Medicine, the integrated clinical
structure and consumer brand Wake Forest Baptist Health, which
includes North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Brenner Children’s
Hospital, the creation and commercialization of research
discoveries into products that benefit patients and improve health
and wellness, through Wake Forest Innovations, Wake Forest
Innovation Quarter, a leading center of technological discovery,
development and commercialization, as well as a network of
affiliated community-based hospitals, physician practices,
outpatient services and other medical facilities. Wake Forest
School of Medicine is ranked among the nation’s best medical
schools and is a leading national research center in fields such as
regenerative medicine, cancer, neuroscience, aging, addiction and
public health sciences. Wake Forest Baptist’s clinical programs
have consistently ranked as among the best in the country by U.S.
News & World Report for the past 20 years.

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About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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