Stem cell therapy could significantly improve the outcome for people with kidney disease needing a transplant.
The news is of particular relevance for people with diabetes as the two most common reasons for kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). Kidney failure is said to occur if kidney function decreases to 10%.
The new technique was performed upon 8 patients in the US in which the kidneys assigned to them were deemed to be not well genetically matched. Under conventional techniques, the kidney recipient would need to take a number of immune suppressing drugs to prevent rejection of new organ. Some of the anti-rejection drugs can contribute to higher blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as greater risk of infection, which can all be problems for people with diabetes.
The new technique involves giving the patient an injection of stem cells which are taken from the blood of the kidney donor. The stem cells help to convince the donor recipient’s immune system that the kidney is not a foreign body that should be rejected, with less reliance on anti-rejection drugs.
The new technique could make finding a suitable organ for a patient easier allowing genetically mismatched organs to be used with less risk of rejection.

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