Generating human kidney tissue from pluripotent stem cells
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), by virtue of their unlimited self-renewal and ability to generate cells of all three embryonic germ layers, are ideally suited for the derivation of functional human kidney cells and tissue. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be readily generated from patients with kidney disease, enabling the development of immunocompatible tissue as well as patient-specific models of disease. Our approach uses directed differentiation, which is the treatment of hPSCs with exogenous growth factors and/or chemicals in a series of distinct, sequential stages, to mimic normal development of a tissue or organ. We have focused on generating kidney precursor populations, particularly the metanephric mesenchyme (MM) and demonstrated the differentiation of hPSCs into SIX2+ nephron progenitor cells that can form kidney tissue in vitro. We are currently using this novel techology to study genetic and non-genetic kidney diseases, drug-induced injury, and kidney regeneration for development of precision theraies for patients with kidney disease.