Welcome to STELLAR

STELLAR is an EU financed research consortium interested in developing an alternative to renal replacement therapy making use of newly discoverd kidney mesenchymal stem cells.

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STELLAR is a research consortium interested in developing an alternative for renal replacement therapy.
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STELLAR combines experts in the field of kidney development, regenerative medicine and kidney pathogenesis.
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STELLAR will make use of newly identified kidney stem cells to develop methods to fight chronic kidney disease.
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Any news on STELLAR meetings, publications and events can be found on our news blog or visit our Facebook page.
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STELLAR end Symposium

The STELLAR end symposium will be organised in Leiden, the Netherlands on September 11, 2017.

All results gathered during the 5 year project duration will be presented and an outlook into the future will be provided.

08.30-09.00 Registration + Coffee
09.00-11.00 Keynote lectures
09.00-09.20 Building a translational (eco)system for regenerative medicine Ton Rabelink
09.20-10-10 Challenges in nephrology: From prevention to precision medicine in regenerative therapy Guiseppe Remuzzi
10.10-11.00 Challenges in kidney regeneration: From kidney development to organoids and the bioengineered kidney Melissa Little
11.00-11.30 Networking break / Coffee-Tea
11.30-13.00 Mechanisms of Action of MSC
11.30-12.00 MoA: Insight in MSC and immune modulation Francesco Dazzi
12.00-12.30 MoA: endocycling vs mitosis in kidney regeneration Paola Romagnani
12.30-13.00 MoA: MSC and mitochondrial mobility Marina Morigi
13.00-14.00 Networking break / Lunch
14.00-15.30 Implementation and Exploitation of STELLAR results
14.00-14.30 Bioreactor development for cell therapy production Ruud Das
14.30-15.00 GMP production process Kathrin Godthardt
15.00-15.30 TopoWell plate controls the kidney MSC secretome Jan de Boer
15.30-16.00 Networking break / Coffee-Tea
16.00-17.00 Clinical application and economic benefits of MSC
16.00-16.30 Clinical use of MSC in kidney transplantation Ton Rabelink
16.30-17.00 Clinical promise of MSC in diabetic kidney disease Matthew Griffin
17.00-17.30 Economic evaluation of MSC therapy in kidney disease Wilbert vd Hout
17.30-18.15 Beyond STELLAR: the COLLAR concept Rutger Ploeg
19.00-23.00 Dinner at the Royal Museum of Antiquities

Culturing clinical grade kidney perivascular stromal cells

The first major piece from the STELLAR study has just been published. It describes a clinical grade method to isolate human kidney-derived perivascular stromal cells (hkPSC). These cells are promising therapeutic candidates for the treatment of kidney disease.

If you want to read more please browse the pdf below.



Modelling the cost-effectiveness of delaying End-Stage Renal Disease.

Ten percent of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD), quite a large number is people is affected without knowing so. Of those people that have End-Stage renal disease (ESRD) currently 2 million people worldwide receive treatment with dialysis or are lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant.

Both dialysis and transplantation are very costly procedures but currently the only treatment options for patients with ESRD. New treatment methodologies for delaying ESRD, including cell-based therapy, studied in the STELLAR project, are under development. Because of the increasing incidence of CKD and the high costs associated with current treatments, proper economic assessment and cost modelling of new therapies is very welcome.

Within the STELLAR project a generic model for estimating the cost-effectiveness of delaying ESRD was constructed. The model is described in the paper below.


EU-MSC2 Meeting report

Within the STELLAR project we are investigating the use of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSC) for the treatment of Kidney Disease. These MSC can be collected from the bone marrow or from adipose tissue but possibly also from the kidney. The mean research question in STELLAR is wether MSC from the kidney are better equipped to contribute to kidney regeneration than MSC derived from other sides of the body.

A number of research groups within the European Union work on MSC, investigating the potential use of these cells to treat a variety of diseases. To learn from each others expertise, exchange ideas and to further research on MSC across Europe these research groups met a while ago. Interested in the results of that meeting? See the report of the EU-MSC2 meeting below.



Free online course on kidney, pancreas and islet transplantation

The transplant team of the Leiden University Medical Center among which the LUMC STELLAR partners, have created an online course on clinical kidney, pancreas and islet Transplantation.

Kidney transplantation used to be an experimental risky procedure, but is now routinely performed by many countries worldwide.

If you are curious and want to know all about clinical transplantation, Join the Massive Open Online Course that starts on January 25thand find out. 

Prepare to discover the world of clinical kidney transplantation during this 4-module online course. Through interactive lectures, unique 3D-movies and real time videos about surgery and immunology, you will learn about the different phases: before, during and after transplantation. Do you want to gain advanced knowledge? Each module offers in-depth insight into specialist subjects with extra assignments.

The course is designed for (bio) medical students, health care professionals and anyone interested in research and knowledge on clinical transplantation.  Register and read more information on the website of the MOOC Clinical Kidney Transplantation.

Of particular interest to our followers of the STELLAR project is a 3D animation of MSCs in transplantation. This can be found in module 3 of the course.

Anxious to get started? Watch the trailer and be prepared for January 25 to start this free online course.








Yesterday we received the brand new song Regenerate. The composer Andrea Pittini came all the way to Leiden, the Netherlands to hand it to us personally.

We are grateful that Andrea composed a beautiful piece of music for STELLAR to create awareness for people suffering from kidney disease.

The song Regenerate will be available on iTunes from September 15. For more info visit Andreas’ website: https://soundcloud.com/pittinimusic

You can stream the song for free here: https://soundcloud.com/pittinimusic/regenerate

The delights of dissemination

Within the STELLAR project we are striving towards developing a cellular therapy for patients with chronic kidney disease. In order to create awareness for our project amongst the general public we have set up a website and a Facebook page. Both media are visited quite frequently and we receive questions, comments and suggestion from people all over the world. Recently we received a very remarkable message which elated us all.

We were contacted by Andrea Pittini who enquired if we were willing to accept a donation for the STELLAR project and if he could in any way help create awareness for the project. Given the unusual and lovely nature of this message we contacted Andrea and this is his story:

andrea_500At a young age he was diagnosed with small vessel vasculitis. He got anaemia followed by inflammation of the kidney which resulted in a 50% loss of function of his kidneys. Andrea is actively involved in the Vasculitis Foundation for which he has composed a song: http://www.vasculitisfoundation.org/special-events/andrea-pittini-life-vasculitis-awareness-song/ When asked what motivated him to contact us, Andrea told us that the different forms of vasculitis are hard to diagnose. There is little knowledge among GPs. This needs to change so awareness creation is important. Also the kidney failure which can happen overnight is hard to foresee and treat and time is of the essence when inflammation occurs. His challenge is to make other people aware of the disease and create awareness for the research performed in the hope that other people will be better off and do not have to suffer the problems he went through.

When he graduated from his studies in public relations and communication, he and his family plus friends wanted to make a donation for a good cause. They picked STELLAR because the research objectives sounded good and he hopes that the output of the project will be successful so that patients suffering from kidney disease can be cured.

Andrea not only made a generous donation to the STELLAR project, he also agreed on composing a song especially for the STELLAR project.  Andrea is a classically trained pianist and creative musician. He loves to express his feelings through music and explore new ways to compose and produce songs (https://soundcloud.com/pittinimusic). We are grateful for his donation and excited about the song. As soon as the song is finished we will post it on our Facebook page. These are the delights of dissemination.


STELLAR meeting V – Meyer Children’s Hospital – Florence

20150615-DSC_0256-STELLAR Florence

This week STELLAR had its 5th consortium meeting. The whole team gathered in the beautiful city Florence in Italy to discuss the scientific progress of the project.

20150615-DSC_0228-STELLAR Florence

Paola Romagnani, our host, opened the first session explaining the model systems that she and her group have been working on and which will be used in the remainder of the project.

STELLAR is a collaborative effort between Europe and Australia. Our Australian partners who are currently on sabbatical at LUMC in Leiden, the Netherlands joined the meeting. Both Melissa Little and Minoru Takasato showed their progress on the STELLAR project and discussed in detail their work on kidney development.

All scientific work packages were discussed by various members of the consortium. Great progress has been made towards culture protocol development, bioreactor design and fundamental insight into the function of kidney derived mesenchymal stromal cells.

The STELLAR project which will run for 5 years is now halfway. Critical decisions will be made on how to proceed with the tasks in the various work packages to ensure that the project outcome will be successful.

20150615-DSC_0250-STELLAR Florence

STELLAR Spin-off

STELLAR is a collaboration between European and Australian researchers and combines experts in the field of kidney development, regenerative medicine and kidney pathogenesis. This combined knowledge is crucial in unraveling the potential of kidney derived MSC to counteract the development of end stage renal disease.

Close collaborations in STELLAR have opened new avenues for other joint research projects. A shared interest of several STELLAR partners is the development of a bioengineered kidney.

Danielle Leuning, a PhD student on the STELLAR project was recently interviewed by a Dutch newspaper to explain all about this new exciting STELLAR spin-off.

Danielle in Leids Dagblad

Give Life

STELLAR’s coordinator Ton Rabelink and Tom Oostrom director of the Dutch Kidney Foundation (partner in the STELLAR project) participated in a live broadcast on Dutch television. The theme of the broadcast was “Give Life” with a focus on kidney disease.

Tijd voor MAX crop

In the Netherlands 6.500 patients are dependent on Dialysis. Dialysis is merely a way to add a number of years to the life of a patient.  There is currently no cure for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. Ground breaking research is dearly needed to counteract this unmet medical need.

Ton Rabelink discussed two options that could potentially deliver new treatments for kidney patients:

The STELLAR project focusses the potential use of Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) isolated from the bone marrow or the kidney to regenerate diseased kidney tissue. MSC isolated from bone marrow are currently tested on small groups of patients in clinical trials. The STELLAR project investigates whether MSC isolated from the kidney are a better source of “stem cells” to counteract deterioration of the kidney and turn diseased tissue into healthy functioning kidneys.

STELLAR is a collaboration between European and Australian specialist in the field of kidney development, regenerative medicine and kidney disease. This collaborative effort is very fruitful. Our Australian partners have succeeded in producing kidney cells from stem cells. These cells could potentially form the building blocks for the generation of a completely new kidney from the patient’s own cells. Through this collaborative effort knowledge obtained by researchers in Australia will be combined with the knowledge present in the European labs to speed up translation and implementation of newly discovered treatment methods to the clinic.

The interview with Ton (in Dutch) can be found using this LINK.

Click on “onderzoek naar genezing nierziekten”

@stellareu on Twitter
Latest Tweet: #Regenerate a beautiful song composed by Andrea Pittini to create awareness for #STELLAR and kidney disease patients http://t.co/jPEhJCNMQ4
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