It is an established fact in medicine that the human kidney is a non-regenerating organ. This means that any major damage in the kidney, which results in cell death, is irreversible. However, a scientific breakthrough may enable future procedures or perhaps medications to potentially regenerate the kidney.
Researchers are currently working to realize this medical dream. It has been discovered that a cell in zebrafish kidneys, when transplanted to another fish, helps in generating new nephrons.
Researchers are baffled with the fact that non-mammals such as the zebrafish, are able to generate nephrons. While mammals are able to generate nephrons during the embryonic stage of their lives, they quickly lose this ability afterward.
Through this study, the researchers are hoping to cross the barriers between species in finding answers to problems in mammalian kidneys.
In the U.S., cases of renal disease are on the rise, and a great proportion of that is end-stage renal disease, a devastating illness with a high mortality rate. Since the kidney is unable to regenerate itself, the chances of kidney disease ending in renal failure is very high. This stems from the fact that more and more people are have unhealthy diets, are obese, and lead sedentary lifestyles.