Kidney device paves way for improved screening

Researchers at State University of New York at Binghamton have developed a model kidney to show the inner working of the organ during different treatments to identify possible new solutions.

The device is reusable, multi-layered and microfluidic that uses a porous growth substrate and passive filtration to show the function of the kidney in filtering waste from blood. Developed by assistant professor Gretchen Mahler and Courtney Sakolish, PhD, the device uses human cells to better predict the outcomes of a certain drug going through the kidney. It hopes to improve preclinical screening tools.

"This is a unique platform to study interactions between drugs and cells or tissues, specifically in the kidney, where current models were lacking," said Sakolish. "These platforms will, hopefully, in the future, be used as an animal alternative during pre-clinical testing to more accurately direct these studies toward successful results in humans."

Results showed that the cells grown within the device show a more natural picture of filtration than cells grown in a culture.

"This is tissue engineering, but not for the purpose of replacing an organ or tissue in a person," said Mahler. "The idea is that we can recreate the major organ functions in a simplified way for use as a drug screening tool. Finding new drugs is very hard, expensive and inefficient. We hope that by using human cells in a physiological environment we can help to direct resources toward the most promising new drug candidates and determine that other new drug candidates will fail, faster."