Researchers from Chicago, Illinois have shown that a fatty fold of tissue within the abdomen contains a rich source of stem cells that can help heal diseased kidneys.
Scientists from the laboratory of Ashok K. Singh at Hospital of Cook County used a rat model of chronic kidney disease to examined the efficacy of these cells.
In past experiments, transplanted stem cells have failed to live very long in the body of the recipient. To solve this problem, Singh and his co-workers connected the a fatty fold of tissue located close to the kidney called the “omentum” to the kidney. The omentum is a wonderfully rich source of stem cells and by connecting the kidney to the omentum, Singh and his colleagues subjected the diseased kidney to a constant supply of stem cells.
After 12 weeks of being connected to the kidney, the kidney showed significant signs of improvement.
The progression of chronic kidney disease was slowed due to this continuous migration of stem cells from the omentum to the diseased kidney. The influx of these stem cells seemed to direct healing of the kidney.
This experiment is significant in that it suggests that resident stem cells that facilitate healing of the kidney, but only when they are in contact with the tissue over a long period of time. Also, it implies that a supposedly useless organ that lies close to the kidney can be fused with the kidney to heal it with a patient’s own stem cells. This therapeutic strategy seems to be ideal for kidney patients.