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Stem Cell Therapy Has the Potential to Help Patients with Kidney Failure

Stem Cell Therapy Has the Potential to Help Patients with Kidney Failure

Many people in the United States experience kidney disease or kidney failure due to diabetes or high blood pressure. They may eventually end up on dialysis or need a kidney transplant to live. Stem cell therapy is being considered as a treatment for patients who have kidney failure.



What is Kidney Failure?


The kidneys are two organs, each about the size of a fist, that is found in your back on either side of the spine. Healthy kidneys clean waste products from the blood by making urine. They also balance the amount of certain elements in your blood, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, and make hormones that control blood pressure and red blood cells. In most cases, kidney failure is caused by other health conditions that have done permanent damage to your kidneys over time. When your kidneys are damaged, they may not work as well as they should. If the damage to your kidneys continues to get worse and your kidneys are less able to do their job, you can develop chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. This is why kidney failure is also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD for short. Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, while high blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD.


Sometimes the kidneys can stop working very suddenly. This type of kidney failure is called acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. This type of kidney failure is not always permanent. Your kidneys may go back to normal or almost normal with treatment and if you do not have other serious health problems. Chronic kidney disease usually gets worse slowly, and symptoms may not appear until your kidneys are severely damaged. In the late stages of CKD, as you are nearing kidney failure, you may notice symptoms that are caused by waste and extra fluid building up in your body.



To treat kidney disease, you have to treat the cause. Chronic renal failure can lead to end-stage kidney disease. When kidney function falls below 10% of normal, dialysis or a kidney transplant is most often needed, especially if you have signs of uremia, like nausea and itching. Dialysis is a way to pump your blood through a machine that filters out the waste and returns the blood to your body. The two types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.


How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Patients with Kidney Failure?


Stem cells are currently being studied in the clinical setting as a treatment for kidney failure. Researchers can regenerate healthy kidney tissue and transplant it into their failed and damaged kidneys. This helps reduce inflammation and stimulate new cellular growth, potentially eliminating the need for dialysis or a transplant. Currently, there are no FDA approved stem cell treatments for kidney failure, but the initial research has been promising.

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