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Winning Solution: 3D Vascularized Biomimetic Renal Construct Platform for Accelerated Vascular Integration

A biodegradable blood vessel mold can be inserted into a patient’s kidney to augment function

Anthony Atala, MD, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

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KidneyX Competition:

Artificial Kidney Prize, Phase 2: Track Two

Anthony Atala, MD

About the Solution

There are over 100,000 people on the US organ transplant list, and 87% are waiting for a kidney. Only 28% of patients waiting for a kidney were transplanted this past year. Regenerative medicine strategies may be used to create functional kidney tissue. Over the last three decades we have pursued a strategy that involves taking a very small piece of tissue from the patient’s own organ, isolating and expanding the normal kidney cells outside the body, and seeding the cells on three-dimensional scaffolds in a bioreactor, allowing tissue to form.  A major challenge has been to create larger segments of tissue because of the massive blood vessel requirements needed for solid organs. We aimed to solve this challenge by using casting techniques to create a biodegradable blood vessel mold which can be perfused with blood vessel cells, coated with collagen, and seeded with kidney cells. The engineered kidney segment can then be inserted into a patient’s own kidney to augment function and eliminate failure. Because the patients on cells would be used to create the new tissue, rejection is avoided. Current work entails creating  larger segments that can show safety and long-term efficacy in order to proceed with clinical translation in the future.

About the Winner

Dr. Atala is the G. Link Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the W. Boyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wake Forest University. His work focuses on growing human cells, tissues and organs. Fifteen applications of technologies developed in Dr. Atala’s laboratory have been used clinically in human patients. Dr. Atala’s work was listed twice as Time Magazine’s top 10 medical breakthroughs of the year, and as one of 5 discoveries that will change the future of organ transplants. Dr. Atala’s work was ranked in 2019 by the Project Management Institute as one of the top 10 most impactful biotech projects from the past 50 years. Dr. Atala has led or served several national professional and government committees. He was a Founder of the Tissue Engineering Society, the Regenerative Medicine Society, the Regenerative Medicine Foundation, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, the Regenerative Medicine Development Organization, the Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing Society, and the Regenerative Medicine Manufacturing Consortium. Dr. Atala works with several journals and serves in various roles. He is the editor of 25 books, has published more than 800 journal articles and has applied for or received over 250 national and international patents.