Dr. Harald Ott of the Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Regenerative Medicine, said the bioengineered rat kidneys successfully produced urine both in a laboratory apparatus and after being transplanted into living animals.
"What is unique about this approach is that the native organ's architecture is preserved, so that the resulting graft can be transplanted just like a donor kidney and connected to the recipient's vascular and urinary systems," Ott, the senior author, said in a statement.
"If this technology can be scaled to human-sized grafts, patients suffering from renal failure who are currently waiting for donor kidneys or who are not transplant candidates could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells."
As a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, Ott developed the technique for stripping the living cells from a donor organ with a detergent solution and then repopulating the collagen scaffold that remains with the appropriate cell type -- human endothelial cells to replace the lining of the vascular system and kidney cells from newborn rats.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.