The kidney makes a hormone called “erythropoietin (EPO)”, which triggers the production of red blood cells. The production of EPO is reduced in patients with chronic kidney disease, which often results in severe anaemia in these patients (this condition is called renal anaemia).
Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have now established a method to turn stem cells into cells that produce EPO. The cells were able to secrete EPO proteins in response to low oxygen conditions. When they then transplanted these cells into mice with chronic kidney disease, they were able to reverse renal anaemia in the mice: EPO concentrations was significantly increased in mice that received the cell transplant compared to controls, and the proportion of red blood cells (“Hematocrit”) remained within the normal range for the remaining 28 weeks of the experiment.
Note that this study was done in mice, and therefore might still be a long way from being clinical available for patients.
Link to the study: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/409/eaaj2300