Stem Cells to Treat Kidney Failure

Stem Cells to Treat Kidney Failure

Stem cell therapy is an up and coming treatment in medicine.  Each year that passes, more research is done on ways in which stem cells can be used.  Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which allows them to be used for a wide range of ailments.  It is also the reason scientists are always discovering new uses for stem cells inpatient treatment.  Currently, stem cells have been shown to help treat patients experiencing kidney failure.

Kidney failure is a very dangerous condition that can be caused by a wide variety of illnesses.  Some of these causes include diabetes, heart attack, urinary tract problems, and illegal drug use or overuse of alcohol.  The kidneys require a very delicate balance to work properly.  When they stop functioning, patients can experience symptoms such as muscle cramps, nausea, swelling of extremities, and fever.  Kidneys help filter and clear waste out of the body.  Therefore, when kidneys are not working correctly, they cause the body to become toxic.

 

When kidney disease is initially detected, there is a possibility of resolving the problem through lifestyle changes.  However, once a patient reaches end-stage kidney failure, the only solution is permanent dialysis or a kidney transplant.  Patients can end up waiting months and even years for a kidney donor match to come through.  In some cases, patients may get lucky and have a friend or family member who is a match, willing to donate a kidney.  However, these cases are rare.  This means, most patients manage kidney failure through dialysis.

While dialysis is a great help to those suffering from kidney failure, it is not without problems.  Dialysis typically requires the patient to block out four hours per day, three days per week, to receive the treatment.  Also, while dialysis filters out some waste from the body, it cannot filter out all waste.  This means patients are required to completely alter their day to day activities, which can significantly impact the quality of life.

Fortunately, stem cells are now being used to treat kidney failure.  Kidney failure is usually caused by damage to the nephrons, the functional units in the kidney.  Stem cells are being used to treat kidney failure in one of two ways.  First, stem cells may be injected into the patient and used to regenerate the damaged parts of the kidney.  The hope with this method is that the body will use the stem cells to differentiate into cells that can repair the damage.  The second method in which stem cells are being used to treat kidney failure includes creating a 3D type nephron structure out of the stem cells, which can be used to replace the damaged nephrons.

Kidney failure is a very serious condition.  As diabetes and heart conditions become more common, more and more people find themselves suffering from kidney disease.  Traditional treatments such as dialysis and kidney transplants greatly affect a patients quality of life.  Fortunately, research is being done on how stem cell therapy can help treat kidney disease.  This research has the ability to improve a patient’s quality of life in the future.

 

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