Chronic kidney diseases (CKD) affect approximately 10% of worldwide population . Currently in vitro models fail to mimic the complexity of the kidney essential for relevant in vitro studies. CKD can be caused by a multitude of factors spanning from nephrotoxic events, especially when exposed to cytotoxic compounds (e.g., antibacterials, corticosteroids, anti-cancer drugs) up to viral infection. Hence, the BIRDIE project aims to develop a novel platform for studying CKD that can support nephrotoxicity and viral testing and in which both structure and function of the native kidney can be mimic. Therefore, BIRDIE combines three different technologies: bioprinting, human pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), and organ-on-chip.
Through bioprinting, we will build a three-dimensional organ-like structure where cells can be patterned and spatially organized as in vivo. Secondly, hiPSCs differentiation into kidney progenitors will offer a more reliable cell source compared to the canonical 2D cultures of primary cells or cell lines. Lastly, the introduction of a microfluidic system will recreate the physiological conditions of the native kidney, further sustaining progenitors development.
Overall, the in vitro model envisioned in BIRDIE will provide a physiologically relevant platform as a reliable tool to study nephrotoxicity and viral infection associated to CKD, supplanting current in vitro and in vivo models.
 Wilson S, et al., J Clin Hypertens (2021) 23:831–4.