Newswise — Winston-Salem, NC — In the next step toward producing the answer to kidney transplantation shortages, Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), and the kidney research team, have been awarded the prestigious KidneyX Track 2 $1 Million Prize for work based on a 3D kidney construct platform. This innovation holds potential to accelerate the regeneration of artificial kidneys. 

The KidneyX initiative, a public-private partnership between the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been instrumental in advancing the development of novel technologies and approaches to address the urgent need for better treatment options for kidney diseases. The Artificial Kidney Prize, Phase 2, aims to encourage the development of artificial kidneys capable of effectively replacing the function of natural kidneys. 

Dr. Atala's team has been working on creating 3D vascularized platforms that could be used for kidney tissue. By replicating the intricate structure and function of the natural kidney, this technology enables accelerated blood vessel integration, an essential step for successful transplantation.  

"This recognition reflects our team's goal of transforming the lives of individuals suffering from kidney diseases," said Dr. Anthony Atala. "We believe the 3D biomimetic kidney construct platform can play a role in advancing the field of artificial kidneys." 

Recognition from the KidneyX Track 2 Prize will further support the research and facilitate the translation of these findings into clinical applications. The ultimate goal is to provide patients with end-stage kidney disease a transformative treatment option that can alleviate their suffering and enhance their quality of life. KidneyX Track 2 prize recipients were judged on functionality replication, level of innovation, proof of concept, and development progress and planning.  

The 3D kidney construct platform developed by research at WFIRM combines state-of-the-art bioengineering techniques, including 3D printing and tissue engineering, to create an organ-like structure that closely mimics the complexity of a natural kidney. This technology has shown promising results in preclinical studies. Team members on the project include John Jackson, PhD, Young Min Ju, PhD, Ji Hyun Kim, PhD, and James Yoo, MD, PhD.  

About the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine: The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is recognized as an international leader in translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies, with many world firsts, including the development and implantation of the first engineered organ in a patient. Over 400 people at the institute, the largest in the world, work on more than 40 different tissues and organs. A number of the basic principles of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine were first developed at the institute. WFIRM researchers have successfully engineered replacement tissues and organs in all four categories – flat structures, tubular tissues, hollow organs and solid organs – and 16 different applications of cell/tissue therapy technologies, such as skin, urethras, cartilage, bladders, muscle, kidney, and vaginal organs, have been successfully used in human patients. The institute, which is part of Wake Forest School of Medicine, is located in the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, and is driven by the urgent needs of patients. The institute is making a global difference in regenerative medicine through collaborations with over 400 entities and institutions worldwide, through its government, academic and industry partnerships, its start-up entities, and through major initiatives in breakthrough technologies, such as tissue engineering, cell therapies, diagnostics, drug discovery, biomanufacturing, nanotechnology, gene editing and 3D printing. 


About KidneyX: KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of innovative solutions to kidney diseases. Through prize competitions, collaborations, and other initiatives, KidneyX brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to foster innovation and transform kidney care. 

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