Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is a serious complication of diabetes. Up to 40 percent of people with diabetes eventually develop kidney disease. With no long-term treatment available, many patients will progress to end stage kidney disease requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant. Research is underway to keep people from progressing to kidney failure, and the need for more invasive treatments such as dialysis or transplantation.
LaTonya Hickson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist, is part of a research team looking at using stem cells to help regenerate failing kidneys.
“We take adipose tissue from a patient, harvest and expand mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and later inject the cells into the patient’s injured kidney,” says Dr. Hickson. “Our hope is that these cells will then turn on the regenerative process to help delay the progression of kidney failure in individuals with diabetic kidney disease.”
Adipose-derived MSCs are stem cells that are taken from a patient’s abdominal fat and given back to the same patient. In this case, the cells are injected into the patient’s diseased kidney. Dr. Hickson’s latest research, a phase I clinical trial funded by a grant from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, will assess the safety, side effects, dosing and timing of the delivery of these cells in patients with diabetic kidney disease.
“This research could lay the foundation for the development of a therapy that may dramatically affect millions of patients across the country by altering the trajectory of diabetic kidney disease,” says Dr. Hickson.
While there’s a lot more research ahead, Dr. Hickson is excited about the possibilities. She discusses the research in the video below:
This story first appeared on the Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.