NZ Herald: Stem cell hope for kidney patients

Martin Johnston writes in the New Zealand Herald about research, led by New Zealand scientists Alan Davidson, which has found that stem cell treatment for kidney disease may be possible.

The research found that adult stem cells capable of generating new nephrons (the functional units of the kidney) exist in zebrafish.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The research was conducted on zebra fish but holds hope of application to humans. “[It] provides a proof of principle that adult kidney stem cells exist in nature and that treating renal disease with a stem cell-type therapy is theoretically possible,” Associate Professor Alan Davidson, of Auckland University, says in a Harvard University publication. He led the research – published in the journal Nature – as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in the US, before returning to New Zealand in December.

“The US study identified, for the first time, stem cells in adult zebra fish kidneys that can be transplanted from one fish to another and generate new nephrons, the basic blood filtration structure of the kidneys.

“Professor Davidson was given a Rutherford Distinguished Fellowship by the Royal Society of NZ so he could return here, and won a three-year Marsden grant of more than $900,000 to continue his work on kidney regeneration using stem cells.”