New life for a used organ

Scientists transplant a rebuilt kidney into a rat

By Stephen Ornes, 14:27 PM April 26, 2013

A rat kidney was stripped of its cells and repopulated with human and rat cells. Researchers transplanted the organ into a rat, where it functioned to produce urine and filter impurities from blood. Credit: Ott Lab/Center for Regenerative Medicine/Massachusetts General Hospital

Scientists at Harvard University have recycled an organ — in a rat.

The researchers removed a kidney from a dead rat and stripped off all of the organ’s old living cells. This left behind only the scaffolding tissue. This framework contains molecules called proteins that can support the growth of new cells. The scientists then seeded the scaffold with new kidney cells and let them multiply. Later, the now refurbished kidney was transplanted into a living rat. The rebuilt organ wasn’t perf...

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