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Discovering the great potential of stem cells and kidney regeneration

A remarkable ISN Forefronts Symposium entitled, “Stem Cells and Kidney Regeneration”, was held in Florence, Italy, from September 12 to 15, 2013.  The speakers were assembled worldwide from laboratories and clinics in the forefront of research extending from very basic investigations to clinical trials.

The entire field was propelled forward by the discovery that somatic cells could be converted to multipurpose stem cells by the insertion of five genes, thereby circumventing the ethical problems faced by the use of human embryos, and providing an abundance of material for experimental work. The properties of stem cells required for their function as progenitors appropriate for engraftment and differentiation into specific renal structures were explored in detail using models of both normal and diseased kidney tissue.

Three clinical trials were described:  stem cell therapy for renal transplantation, for heart disorders, and for corneal replacement.  In the aggregate, the Symposium provided an exciting panorama of basic stem cell research and its encouraging progression to clinical application.

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