According to a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, a 3D bioprinting technique that fabricates kidney tissue could transform the treatment of kidney disease.
The multi-year project, which has involved members of Harvard’s John A Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (SEAS), in addition to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has resulted in the group licensing stem cell and bioprinting technology to the San Diego-based established start-up Trestle Biotherapeutics, which it aims to commercialize in new treatments for kidney disease and organ replacement.
More than half a million people are on dialysis in the US alone, according to the researchers, and 100,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants. Despite the necessity, only 20,000 transplants are performed in the country each year, with nearly 5,000 patients dying each year awaiting treatment.
The team added that in addition to kidney failure, there are more than 60 genetic diseases that directly or indirectly affect kidney function, many of which cannot be properly treated with existing therapies.
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“I am pleased that Trestle has now started translating this robust technology to meet the growing need for kidney tissue and organs,” said Jennifer Lewis, Wyss Core Faculty member, whose lab was central to the technology’s development. . “More than a dozen members of my lab have contributed to the innovations in tissue engineering that have created this technology platform.
“We recently developed a new bio-production method known as: biography in functional tissue (SWIFT)enabling the fabrication of vascularized kidney tissues.”
Lewis and her collaborators created 3D kidney-on-chip models for drug screening and disease modeling and established the core technology for rapidly producing functional, vascularized kidney tissue on a large scale for repair and regeneration.
An important milestone was a method for developing complex renal organoids – mini-organs that mimic the behavior of kidneys – in collaboration with clinicians Joseph Bonventre (Brigham) and Ryuji Morizane (Massachusetts General Hospital and Wyss Institute).
“We are very excited to apply the biofabrication and stem cell biology technologies developed in the Lewis and Morizane labs into what we are building at Trestle,” said Ben Shepherd, CEO of Trestle Biotherapeutics.
“Harvard, Wyss and Brigham’s teams have a distinguished track record in translational innovation, and we’re excited about the opportunity to continue their work for the benefit of patients.”
The team’s results are detailed in Nature Methods†