World’s first renalcell implantation

About 10,000 Swedes suffer from kidney failure that is so advanced that active
treatment is required to avoid death from uremia. The only options available today are
dialysis or renal transplantation. But now researchers at Karolinska University Hospital
are testing a new approach to postpone dialysis using renal cell implantation.

Last autumn, Peter Stenvinkel, professor of nephrology, and researcher Torbjörn Lundgren, MD, from the transplantation unit at Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, were first in the world to treat patients with type 2 diabetes and severe renal failure with renal cell implantation. Tissue from the patients’ own kidneys was sent to the United States, where biotech company Tengion purified and cultured the correct cells, which were then sent back and implanted back into the patient’s own kidneys. 
- Currently, there isn’t a lot of experience injectingcells into abdominal organs, so it isn’t just a matter of injecting the cells using that route. But because we use laparoscopy to reimplant the renal cells into the patient, we have more control over what happens, says Torbjörn Lundgren.

The advantage to using the patient’s own cells is that there is no risk the body will reject the cells, which is a common problem in organ transplantation from donors. Should these attempts prove successful, it is hoped is that radiology departments will be able to perform this procedure in the future. 
-The patients feel fine. We haven’t seen any dramatic events other than improvement of renal function, but we continue to closely monitor these patients. In the best of all worlds, this may evolve into a new treatment for advanced renal failure, says Peter Stenvinkel. Large epidemiological studies have shown that about 10 percent of the population have some type of renal impairment. Aging is commonly accompanied by deteriorating renal function. 
- Symptoms and serious changes in lab tests can usually be seen when renal function deteriorates to about 25–30 percent of normal. Should renal function further deteriorate, patients may develop symptoms such as fatigue, swelling, loss of appetite and itching. Blood counts change, patients lose muscle mass and develop weakness of the legs, while atherosclerosis also accelerates.

According to Peter Stenvinkel, advanced chronic renal failure accelerates the aging process in patients: - We see that the blood vessels in patients with renal disease quickly age beyond their chronological age. The risk of seeing a cardiovascular event in a 40-year-old dialysis patient is equal to that of an 80-year-old with healthy kidneys. The goal of renal implantation is to slow disease progression. Successfully delaying dialysis by just one year would be of great value to both the patient and society.

More stories from Karolinska Unievrsity Hospital in the pdf

Karolinska is one of Europe's largest university hospitals and together with Karolinska Institutet we have a leading role within the field of medical breakthroughs. Our aim is to always put the patient first by providing the best possible medical expertise, treatment and care. Through innovation and active collaboration with industry and academia, we are committed to being internationally prominent in medicine, research and education.





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