Researchers by using stem cells have discovered a new way of treating chronic kidney disease and heart failure in rats.
Dr. Darren Yuen and Dr. Richard Gilbert were the first to show, in 2010, that enriched stem cells improved heart and kidney function in rats with both diseases.
But they and other scientists wondered about the potential side effects of returning those cells to the body, such as forming tumours.
"We've shown that we can use these hormones, collected in the dish, to replicate the beneficial effects of the stem cells in treating animals with chronic kidney disease and heart failure," said Dr. Yuen, a nephrologist. "In our view, this is a significant advance for stem cell therapies because it gets around having to inject stem cells."
Dr. Yuen said they do not yet know what kind of hormone the cells are secreting. Identifying the hormone would be the first step toward the goal of developing a synthetic drug.