• Science Saturday: Seeking a cellular therapy for chronic kidney disease

medical illustration of normal and diseased kidneys

Every year, more than 130,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease, with most cases caused by diabetes. Newer therapies show promise to slow kidney failure rates, but none stop progression to end-stage kidney failure.

The research goal of LaTonya Hickson, M.D., is to develop a cell-based therapy that slows — or even stops — diabetic kidney disease from advancing to end-stage kidney disease.

"It is going to take a multipronged approach. By utilizing cell-based therapies, we can really begin to target proinflammatory pathways that contribute to kidney disease onset and subsequent progression," says Dr. Hickson, who is chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in Florida. "The beautiful thing about cell-based therapy is that it has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory repair properties that help fight disease with potentially fewer side effects compared to traditional immunosuppressants used in clinical practice."

Regenerative biotherapeutics seeks to deliver new cell and gene therapies that restore health. Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics is at the forefront of this movement and supports Dr. Hickson's research as part of its objective of delivering new cures to the practice.

Promising preclinical data

Dr. Hickson's research seeks to answer the scientific question, "Could stem cells provide a new option for restoring kidney health?"

"Our theory is that stem cells could provide an anti-inflammatory intervention to lessen inflammation and stop the scarring that destroys diabetic kidney structure and function. Preclinical data show that cell-based therapies, such as mesenchymal stem cells, reduce inflammation and scarring, and improve kidney tissue oxygenation. We documented this without the side effects that come from anti-inflammatory drugs," says Dr. Hickson.

Read the rest of the article on the Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics blog.


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