Computational model of human kidney could offer safer testing grounds

Scientists have developed the first ever computational model of the human kidney which is said to enable scientists to garner greater insights into  how new drugs that target the kidney, such as diabetes medication, may work.

The work by University of Waterloo scientists will also enable researchers to better learn about the functions of the kidney, including the how the organ regulates the body’s salt, potassium, acid content without having to employ invasive procedure on a patient. The new development replaces previous models that were based on rodent kidneys.

In developing their computational model of the human kidney, the researchers incorporated anatomic and hemodynamic data from the human kidney into the published computational model of a rat kidney.

They then adjusted key transporter data so that the predicted urine output is consistent with known human values. Due to the relative sparsity of data on the renal transporter expression levels in humans, they identified a set of compatible transport parameters that yielded model predictions consistent with human urine and lithium clearance data.

The model could enable scientists to figure out things like the cause of kidney failure. The computational model can simulate the effects of the drug to see if it is bad for the kidney, and if so, which part of the kidney it is actually killing.