More than one in seven U.S. adults is believed to have chronic kidney disease — or, roughly 15% of the population (37 million individuals). When they’re functioning properly, the kidneys remove waste from the body as well as excess fluids. In the case of patients with kidney disease, these organs become compromised and lose their ability to filter waste.
In its earliest stages, kidney disease may not present any symptoms. Over time, however, waste builds up in the blood and can lead to compounding issues, such as anemia, increased risk of heart disease, and nerve damage. When the kidneys fail, a patient must receive dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Dialysis is time-consuming and expensive. Typically, the treatment ranges in cost from $53,000 to $72,000 per year. And a kidney transplant – when a match is available – can total $400,000. Recently, however, researchers have begun exploring the potential of stem cell therapy to help kidney disease patients.
While there are several potential root causes for kidney disease, one of the most common is diabetes. In fact, 75% of patients, diabetes, or high blood pressure were the primary diagnoses, and nearly half of all patients in end-stage kidney disease have diabetes.
Treating diabetic kidney disease is challenging, because not only does the condition affect the kidneys, but it also causes systemic issues throughout the body. The condition is sometimes treated by controlling blood pressure through specific drugs, but medications for addressing the other challenges associated with diabetic kidney disease haven’t shown strong results.
Stem Cell Therapy for Kidney Disease
Regenerative Medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, has potential for those battling kidney disease. These powerful cells have anti-inflammatory properties, and can therefore help to control the widespread inflammation that takes place in diabetic kidney disease. When inflammation is controlled, the regeneration process can begin, helping to create healthy tissue and promote normal kidney functioning. Mesenchymal stem cells, in particular, appear to be especially promising for managing symptoms of kidney disease, according to early research. These cells are easily accessible and have powerful abilities to control inflammation. Clinical trials to test the efficacy of stem cells for kidney disease are ongoing. Researchers aim to understand the precise ways in which stem cells could benefit kidney disease patients, which will help inform treatment protocols. Although stem cell therapy is not a cure for kidney disease, it’s possible to help manage symptoms and may have the ability to reduce the frequency of dialysis sessions, which can ease the financial burden and time commitment for patients. Further research is needed, but some initial studies of stem cells for kidney disease shows promise in the regenerative medicine field. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!