MCRI Kidney Research

Professor Melissa Little and her team at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) are changing the way that kidney diseases are diagnosed and treated at the RCH with their breakthrough discovery in growing artificial kidneys.

The ability to grow kidneys from stem cells in just three weeks is allowing researchers to understand specific conditions and potentially treat patients with their own stem cells in the future.

The Impact of Giving: MCRI Kidney Research

My name is Professor Melissa Little and I’m the Head of Cell Biology and Stem Cell Medicine at MCRI and I run the kidney development disease and regeneration team.

If you have kidney failure then what dialysis is doing is taking away some of the waste products but not all of them, so the quality of life is very hard for these children, they may have to be on dialysis 12 hours a night, they may have to come in and do dialysis and even with that dialysis they have growth retardation,it’s difficult for them to develop at the same place and it’s not an ongoing treatment that can be continued.

In my laboratory we actually use stem cells to recreate kidney tissue and we’re making this kidney tissue from patient stem cells. Now that we can take a cell and recreate a tissue we hope to be able to model that individual patient’s disease to understand it better and possibly show that a new gene that we don’t know anything about is causing that disease which improves again diagnosis, but we also hope to be able to eventually make sufficient tissue that we one day may be able to treat the patient with their own cells.

It is wonderfully rewarding for us as researchers to see that what we’re doing is actually going to make a difference for those families. We just like to say thank you for the support that you’ve given to our work and I’m sure that the families also say thank you in the hope that we’ll be able to change their lives.