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Nation

Lab-made rat kidney creates hope

– Scientists have discovered another way to make a kidney – at least for a rat – that does everything a natural one does, researchers reported Sunday, a step toward savings thousands of lives and making organ donation obsolete.

The latest lab-made kidney sets up a horse race in the booming field of regenerative medicine, which aims to produce replacement organs and other body parts.

If what succeeded in rats “can be scaled to human-size grafts,” then patients waiting for donor kidneys “could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells,” said Dr. Harald Ott of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He led the research reported in the online edition of Nature Medicine.

Ott and his team started with kidneys from 68 rats and used detergent to remove the cells. That left behind a “renal scaffold,” a 3-D framework made of the fibrous protein collagen, with all of a kidney’s functional plumbing.

The scientists then seeded that scaffold with renal cells from newborn rats and blood-vessel-lining cells from human donors. To make sure each kind of cell went to the right spot, they infused the vascular cells through the kidney’s artery and the renal cells through the ureter. Three to five days later, the scientists had their bioengineered kidneys.

Report: Pharmacy boards failing

Congressional investigators say pharmacy boards in nearly all 50 states lack the information and expertise to oversee specialty pharmacies such as the one that triggered a deadly meningitis outbreak last year.

A report released today by House Democrats shows that most states do not track or routinely inspect compounding pharmacies. Staffers surveyed officials in 50 states about their oversight of pharmacies.

The findings come as lawmakers debate how to prevent another outbreak like that caused by the New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Contaminated injections distributed by the company last year have killed more than 50 people.

16 hurt in Yosemite tour bus crash

A tour bus carrying visitors from Yosemite National Park was traveling at an unsafe speed when the driver lost control and crashed on a mountain road, leaving 16 people injured, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday.

The bus was about six miles from the south entrance of the park when it went off Highway 41, a winding mountain road when it crashed about 6 p.m. Saturday. It came to a stop when it hit a tree.

“If the tree wasn’t there to stop the bus, it would have continued down the ravine,” CHP Sgt. Edward Green told the Fresno Bee.

Fifteen passengers and a tour guide suffered minor to moderate injuries.

1 dead, 19 injured in Florida van crash

An overcrowded van had a tire problem on the Florida Turnpike and rolled several times, killing a passenger and injuring 19 other people in a church group, state Highway Patrol officials said.

The group was headed from Miami to Orlando and crashed about 7:10 p.m. Saturday in Kenansville, 60 miles southeast of Orlando, Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Montes said. The rubber from at least one tire separated from the wheel, causing the van to roll over toward a center median, Montes said.

Three people had to be airlifted to nearby hospitals, but none of the injuries was considered life threatening, authorities said Sunday.

The van belongs to GSC Community Inc., a Miami church group. Investigators said the vehicle was designed to hold 15 people and was also carrying a lot of luggage.

Oral polio vaccine developer, 96, dies

Hilary Koprowski, a pioneering virologist who developed the first successful oral vaccination for polio, has died in a Philadelphia suburb. He was 96.

Although not as well-known as fellow researchers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, Koprowski in 1950 became the first to show it was possible to vaccinate against polio, the crippling and sometimes fatal disease that’s now all but eradicated.

Christopher Koprowski said his father had been sick for several months before dying Thursday in the same Wynnewood, Pa., home he’d lived in since 1957.

Hilary Koprowski self-administered the live-virus oral vaccine he developed before the 1950 clinical trial – about two years before Salk’s injectable version using a dead form of the virus began testing.

Koprowski went on to be the director of The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia from 1957 to 1991. Under his leadership, the independent research institution developed a rubella vaccine that helped eradicate the disease in much of the world, Wistar officials said. It was during that time the institute also developed a more effective rabies vaccine.

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