Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a degenerative condition that almost inevitably leads to end stage kidney disease (ESKD), which is only treatable with dialysis or renal transplantation. Considering that the prevalence of ESKD has almost doubled in Europe in recent years, it is clear that new measures to prevent ESKD are urgently needed.
Common causes of CKD include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, ureteral obstruction and nephrotoxic drugs, but regardless of the causative factor, renal fibrosis is the common pathway that leads to a progressive decline in kidney excretory function as healthy tissues are replaced with scar tissue.
Our long-term goal is to develop cellular- and molecular-based regenerative medicine therapies (RMTs) that can treat patients in the early stages of kidney disease and thereby prevent them from developing ESKD. To achieve this, our research at Liverpool focusses on the following key areas:
- Understanding the mechanisms of renal fibrosis. Knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of renal fibrosis will facilitate the development of novel RMTs that can suppress fibrosis, and thus prevent the degeneration of functional renal tissue.
- Identifying non-invasive biomarkers of kidney disease. Biomarkers that can detect the onset of kidney disease will facilitate early diagnosis and allow disease progression and the efficacy of therapeutic interventions to be monitored preclinically and in man.
- Evaluating the safety and efficacy of renal RMTs. Before novel therapies can be translated to the clinic, we need accurate information about their safety and efficacy in preclinical models in order to determine the likely risk/benefit ratio in human patients. A key objective of our work is to develop and apply novel imaging strategies that allow the safety and efficacy of RMTs to be monitored non-invasively in preclinical models.
- Understanding how RMTs ameliorate kidney disease. By understanding the mechanisms whereby RMTs ameliorate disease, we will be able to refine and improve them so as to make them safer and more effective.
Key Investigators: George Bou-Gharios, Ian Copple, David Edgar, Simon Kenny, Patricia Murray, Kevin Park, Antonius Plagge, Bettina Wilm
Cross-disciplinary collaborators: Mathias Brust, Marta Garcia-Finana, Raphael Levy, Matt Rosseinsky