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Australian researchers' groundbreaking tool to watch kidney develop

Date posted: 5 May 2014

Australian researchers are behind new three dimensional (3D) technology which allows them to map the development of kidneys, during pregnancy.

A team of researchers from Victoria and Queensland has developed a 3D mapping approach to watch the kidney develop. They hope their research will lead to understanding how to offset the growing burden of kidney disease which contributes to the deaths of thousands of Australians each year.

Dr Ian Smyth is with Monash's School of Biomedical Sciences and says, 'The kidney's comprised of a bunch of little structures called nephrons, and the number of nephrons can vary wildly one person and another as much as ten fold. So what we're interested in understanding is how, during embryotic development, how the nephrons are specified, how they form, when they form.'

Nephrons filter the blood as it passes through the kidneys, excreting what is not needed, into urine. Every person has somewhere between 250,000 and 2,000,000 nephrons in their kidneys, the more you have, the better and the 3D technology allows researchers to map their growth. 

Due to the nephrons developing during the prenatal phase, researchers hope their work will help them better understand the impact certain behaviours and conditions, such as alcohol and drugs, have on the kidney of an unborn child. 'That's important because later on in life, the number of nephons you have seems to influence how predisposed you are to developing kidney disease and also conditions like hypertentions,' said Dr Smyth. 

Source: SBS World News


Last updated: 5 May 2014
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