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ISN Forefronts Florence – an extensive program on possible regenerative options for the kidney

Florence was the venue for the most recent ISN Forefronts Symposium which focussed on Stem Cells and Kidney Regeneration. Organized by Professors Paola Romagnani and Benjamin Humphreys, leaders in the field from both Italy and the US, the meeting opened with seminal presentations about the processes of reprogramming and regeneration across all species as well as an illustration of the specialized behavior of tissue stem cells in the context of the skeletal muscle.

From this starting point, there were then presentations from a truly impressive array of speakers from across the globe, including developmental biologists, stem cell biologists, pathologists, experimental nephrologists and clinicians. The speakers addressed both what we do and do not understand about the capacity of the kidney to repair after injury in both humans and animal models and whether these processes involve stem cells or not. This gave those active in this area an opportunity to directly compare the results obtained using different approaches and develop, via active face-to-face dialogue, possible additional approaches to resolving remaining questions. However, the meeting went much further than this.

The program extended across the full spectrum of possible regenerative options for the kidney, including recruitment of stem cells from non-renal sites as well as the induction of dedifferentiation, transdifferentiation, and reprogramming of patient cells to pluripotent states. Data was presented showing that such cells can then be directed back to immature or mature kidney cell types, raising the possibility of cellular therapy but also the options of kidney bioengineering or the use of such stem cells to generate disease models or nephrotoxic screens in vitro.

Through a combination of excellent programming, the enthusiasm and professional openness of all participants and undoubtedly the magical location of Florence, this meeting held the attention of all who were present for the entire meeting. I have no doubt that from the resulting dialogue, more collaborative and comparative efforts will emerge to advance the area even further and I suspect that this will not be the last meeting devoted to this particular topic.

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