A treatment using a patient’s own stem cells could rejuvenate ailing kidneys without dialysis, transplantation or immune rejection.

That is the conclusion of a groundbreaking Israeli study recently published in Cell Reports by researchers from Sheba Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

“This treatment is aimed at the millions of patients who have yet to require dialysis treatment, and focuses on improving and stabilizing their renal function in order to avoid the need for dialysis,” said lead author Dr. Benjamin Dekel, chief of pediatric nephrology and the Pediatric Stem Cell Research Institute in the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba.

The newly developed technology, so far tested on mice, generated new tissue to replace damaged kidney tissue. The mice’s kidney function improved as a result.

Graphic courtesy of Sheba Medical Center

The researchers wrote that chronic kidney disease is reaching epidemic proportions in the Western world. In the United States alone, chronic kidney disease affects more than 45 million individuals.

“Harvesting tissue from failing kidneys and autotransplantation of tissue progenitors could theoretically delay the need for dialysis,” they concluded.

Further studies will be done in patients with kidney failure by KidneyCure Bio, a Tel Aviv company that commercialized the technology and supported the study. Dekel is KidneyCure Bio’s chief scientific and medical adviser.

Other grants for the study came from Sheba Medical Center, the Israel Science Foundation, the Israel Ministry of Health and the European Union Seventh Framework Programme.