Today is World Kidney Day. Hundreds of events across the globe are taking place “to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.” (Side note: in recognition that today is also International Women’s Day, World Kidney Day’s theme this year is “Kidney’s & Women: Include, Value, Empower.)
To honor this day, we’re highlighting how CIRM is playing its part in that mission. The infographic below provides big picture summaries of the four CIRM-funded clinical trials that are currently testing stem cell-based therapies for kidney failure, a condition that affects well over 600,000 Americans.
When a person’s kidneys fail, their body can no longer filter out waste products and extra fluid from the blood which leads to life-threatening complications. About 30% of those affected in the U.S. have organ transplants. Due to the limited availability of donor organs, the other 70% need dialysis, a blood filtration therapy, that requires several trips a week to a special clinic.
Both treatment options have serious limitations. Organ recipients have to take drugs that prevent organ rejections for the rest of their lives. Over time, these drugs are toxic and can increase a patient’s risk of infection, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In the case of dialysis treatment, the current procedure uses a plastic tube called a shunt to connect to a patient’s vein. These shunts are far from ideal and can lead to infection, blood clots and can be rejected by the patient’s immune system. These complications probably play a role in the average life expectancy of 5-10 years for dialysis patients.
Four CIRM-funded clinical trials aim to circumvent these drawbacks. Humacyte has received over $24 million from the Agency to support two clinical trials that are testing an alternative to the plastic shunt used in dialysis treatment. The company has developed a bioengineered vessel that is implanted in the patient’s arm and over time is populated with the patient’s own stem cells which develop into a natural blood vessel. The trials will determine if the bioengineered vessel is superior to the shunt in remaining open for longer periods of time and with lower incidence of interventions due to blood clots and infections.
The other two CIRM-funded trials, one headed by Stanford University and the other by Medeor Therapeutics, aims to eliminate the need for long-life, anti-rejection medicine after kidney transplant. Both trials use a similar strategy: blood stem cells and immune cells from the organ donor are infused into the patient receiving the organ. If all goes as planned, those donor cells will engraft into and mix with the recipient’s immune system, making organ rejection less likely and ending the need for immune-system suppressing drugs.
For more details visit our Clinical Trial Dashboard.
4 thoughts on “It’s World Kidney Day: Highlighting CIRM’s Investments in Treating Kidney Failure”
I am interest in learning more about stem cell resarch as it applies to kidney failure. I am 81 years old and was in exxelent health until I suffered a triple aneurism. The surgeon told me that he shut off the blood supply to the kidneys. Since then (Oct 2015) I have been on dialysis 3 times per week. I at the point where I consider ceasing dialysis and die. I would like to help in your research
Dear Thomas, I am so sorry to hear about your kidney failure. I can only imagine how challenging that must be. We are currently funding four clinical trials that target various aspects of kidney failure, however, none involve being able to use stem cells to regenerate the kidney. The trials we are funding are targeting people who are getting a kidney transplant or who are on dialysis.
Another site that might offer you alternatives is the http://www.clinicaltrials.gov website. It’s a list of all the clinical trials registered with the National Institutes of Health. You may find something there that better meets your needs.
I do hope that helps.
I must have not been clear. I am undergoing dialysis and I am looking for alternatives.
Hi Thomas, I’m sorry if my response wasn’t what you were hoping for. None of the projects we are funding right now is an alternative to dialysis. But we hope that in the not too distant future we will fund something to help you.