In the United States, nearly 800,000 people are living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). More than two-thirds of these patients are on dialysis, a process that purifies the blood since the kidneys no longer can. However, according to a recent article from The Straits Times, a new discovery aims to take pressure off the organ transplant lists and the need for dialysis by actually repairing damaged kidneys. Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School, National heart Centre Singapore, and Germany found a way to inhibit a protein that contributes significantly to organ damage, which led to the regeneration of injured kidneys and restoration of renal function.
The treatment targets the cells lining the tubes inside kidneys that return filtered nutrients back into the body and retain urine. Introducing neutralizing antibodies causes the kidney cells to proliferate and regenerate the kidney to reverse damage. It has the possibility to restore other organs as well, including lungs and livers. Tests on mice yielded promising results, and human trials on healthy patients will begin in early 2023. If all goes well, clinical trials should begin in 2024. When commercially available, the team expects the the treatment to be expensive, but cheaper and less taxing than dialysis.