"Mini-kidney" grown from stem cells
Comment of the Day

December 31 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

"Mini-kidney" grown from stem cells

This article by Ben Coxworth for GizMag may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Little points out that while the work is indeed promising, human trials with full-size lab-grown kidneys are not likely to be happening anytime soon. In the meantime, however, the mini-kidneys could be used to test drug candidates without exposing human test subjects to harmful side effects.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Earlier this year, scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine created a functioning rat kidney. In their case, however, they did so by stripping the cells from an existing kidney, then "reseeding" the resulting collagen scaffold with endothelial cells.

Additionally, a team from Italy’s Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research has created kidney-like “organoids” that perform the same functions as kidneys when implanted in rats.

Eoin Treacy's view

The pace with which medical innovation is accelerating is truly breathtaking. However, the pace of drug approvals, human trials and products making it to market takes longer than we might wish for. Therefore while it is easy to become excited about the future and the potential it holds we must remain grounded in the practicalities of whether promising therapies can make money.

A significant number of biotechnology shares completed lengthy bases in 2012 and have done particularly well this year as an increasing number of therapies and drugs have made it to market. Investors keen to support the next big thing have helped drive prices higher with totems in the sector such as Biogen and Gilead Sciences outperforming.

As a measure of the sector’s performance, the Biotech HOLDRS ETF remains in a consistent uptrend, defined by an unbroken progression of higher reaction lows. This would need to be broken to question the consistency of the medium-term uptrend. 

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