Organs-on-chip technology: a tool to tackle genetic kidney diseases
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major healthcare burden that takes a toll on the quality of life of many patients. Emerging evidence indicates that a substantial proportion of these patients carry a genetic defect that contributes to their disease. Any effort to reduce the percentage of patients with a diagnosis of nephropathy heading towards kidney replacement therapies should therefore be encouraged. Besides early genetic screenings and registries, in vitro systems that mimic the complexity and pathophysiological aspects of the disease could advance the screening for targeted and personalized therapies. In this regard, the use of patient-derived cell lines, as well as the generation of disease-specific cell lines via gene editing and stem cell technologies, have significantly improved our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying inherited kidney diseases. Furthermore, organs-on-chip technology holds great potential as it can emulate tissue and organ functions that are not found in other, more simple, in vitro models. The personalized nature of the chips, together with physiologically relevant read-outs, provide new opportunities for patient-specific assessment, as well as personalized strategies for treatment. In this review, we summarize the major kidney-on-chip (KOC) configurations and present the most recent studies on the in vitro representation of genetic kidney diseases using KOC-driven strategies.
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