Scottish scientists have succeeded in growing kidneys in a laboratory that could help tackle the shortage of organs for transplant.
The development could help tackle the tragic shortage of organs for transplant, reports the Scotsman.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh created the organs by manipulating stem cells - early cells that are the building blocks of the body - to form the structure of a kidney.
They then managed to create kidneys that measure just half a centimetre in length - the same size as a kidney in a foetus, which they hope will be able to grow to maturity after being transplanted into patients' bodies.
The kidneys were grown in the laboratory using a combination of cells from amniotic fluid - the fluid that surrounds all babies in the womb - and animal foetal cells.
The technique holds out the prospect of scientists being able to collect amniotic fluid at birth to be stored until needed at a later date if a patient develops kidney disease.
The patient's own amniotic fluid cells can then be used as the base for creating a new kidney.
Using the patient's own cells will, in theory, also end the problem of rejection that arises when an organ from a deceased donor is used.
The Edinburgh researchers are at the forefront of a global attempt to use stem cells culled from amniotic fluid to create new human kidneys.
The study will be presented at the Edinburgh Science Festival later this month.