Timing is everything to build kidneys from scratch
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IMAGE: Developing human nephron, the filtering unit of the kidney. view more 

Credit: Image by Nils O. Lindstrom and Tracy Tran/McMahon Lab USC Stem Cell

Arriving early or late can have big consequences for early-stage cells that gather to form a new kidney, a team of USC researchers discovered.

The scientists showed how progenitor cells that form the kidney’s filtering units, called nephrons, mature into entirely different types of cells based on when they reach the scene of nephron formation. The results appear today in Developmental Cell.

The discovery advances understanding of how to assemble building blocks to fashion kidney tissue. Intimate knowledge of kidney cells helps advance drug development and treatment, fabricate kidney components and, ultimately, build new organs. About one in seven adults in the United States – or 30 million people – suffer a chronic kidney disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“By studying normal human nephron development, we’re gaining important information about how to replicate this intricate process in the laboratory,” said Andy McMahon, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine at USC and Stem Cell Research at USC. “The hope is that laboratory-grown nephrons can be

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