Worldwide, around 10 percent of population is affected with chronic kidney disease and considering the growing aging population, growth rate is expected to increase exponentially, particularly in developed countries. Chronic kidney disease is a prominent challenge for health care systems and socio-economic burden to society.
Chronic kidney disease term describes the gradual loss of kidney function. Kidneys in our body act as filtration device whose function is to filter out wastes and excess fluid from our blood and excrete them in urine. When kidney does not function properly, toxic fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in our body. It is difficult to identify kidney disease at early stage. If one kidney stops functioning, the other kidney is able to carry out normal functions. Kidney disease is mostly diagnosed at fairly well advanced stage and the signs and symptoms are noticeable and by that time most of the damage is irreversible and a person is on stage of permanent kidney failure. When you have chronic kidney disease, rest of the body also gets affected. Some of the common complications of CKD include anemia, bone disease, heart disease, high potassium, high calcium and fluid buildup.
Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the progression of the kidney damage. If your kidneys fail, you will be prescribed for dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live. Dialysis is not full proof treatment, as it does not do all the function of kidneys. Many people do not want to go for dialysis, as 2-3 sessions per week are described. In case of kidney transplant, the wait time is approximately 5 years and in some countries it could be 10 years also. Currently over 90,000 people are waiting for their turn for kidney transplant.
To address the rising incidence and prevalence of kidney disease, search for novel therapies is going on. Cell-based regenerative therapy has come up as an alternative treatment modality for many diseases with no other treatment options available. Over the past decade, advancements in the field of regenerative medicine have allowed development of cell therapies suitable for kidney repair also.
A large number of preclinical studies have been carried out to evaluate the potential of Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells in experimental chronic kidney disease. Preclinical studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of various (stem) cell populations and cell-derived factors – secreted growth factors, in acute kidney Injury models, suggesting a renal regenerative effect of cell-based therapies. Stem cell based therapies exhibited improvement in renal function and morphology in preclinical studies.
The promising results in these pre clinical studies have opened a door for clinical trials with stem cells for kidney diseases and a number of clinical studies are underway with human patients. A recently published study evaluated safety of bone marrow Mesenchymal stromal cells for treatment of patients having polycystic kidney disease. In this study, autologus MSCs were infused no renal complications were observed during the one year follow up period. In case of stem cell therapy for kidney diseases, more intense research is necessary to understand and increase the efficacy of treatment outcome. With the more studies in human subjects, we expect their findings will pave the new door of stem cell-based therapies for patients having kidney diseases.