Melbourne: A new stem cell therapy discovered by Australian researchers could help patients with chronic kidney disease to avoid dialysis or kidney transplants.
A research led by scientists of the Monash University has for the first time shown the effectiveness of combining a stem cell-based therapy with an anti-scarring agent which would reverse scarring and markers of kidney injury, thereby reducing the need for dialysis or transplantation.
The researchers discovered that adult stem cells when combined with a protein called serelaxin, could reverse scarring.
"Adult stem cells have proved promising for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including kidney disease.
"We decided to investigate how adult stem cells could help reduce the scarring effect. We demonstrated that adult stem cells and serelaxin on their own have a limited effect on reversing kidney scarring, yet when used in combination with serelaxin can provide significant protection from kidney damage, said Sharon Ricardo from the Department of Anatomy and Development Biology."
Ricardo said the adult cells did not turn into kidney cells, rather they help the injured kidney repair itself.
"However, the potential of these stem cells is reduced in patients who have a lot of scarring due to the disease."
According to Chrishan Samuel, from the Department of Pharmacology, serelaxin is currently undergoing phase III clinical trials to assess its ability to treat symptoms and end-stage mortality in patients with acute heart failure.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be caused by a number of factors, and results in permanent, irreversible scarring of the kidney leading to end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Once a patient has reached this point their only option is dialysis or transplantation.
According to Brooke Huuskes, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, the finding was important as kidney disease were at a rise worldwide placing huge economic burden on health care systems.