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The UK Renal Research Strategy recognised the need for a kidney biobank. Kidney Research UK has led the collaboration with industry and academia to launch NURTuRE (the National Unified Renal Translational Research Enterprise) - the first kidney biobank covering England, Scotland and Wales and a key resource for the renal research community.

What will be in the biobank?

The biorepository is collecting and storing biological samples from 3,000 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and at least 800 patients with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS). It will provide a resource for fundamental and translational research. In addition to the samples of plasma, serum, urine, DNA and tissue that are stored, the repository has the considerable advantage of containing associated linked clinical data, through the UK Renal Registry.

What happens to samples?

Watch our short video to see what happens to a patient's samples once they've been donated to the NURTuRE project:

Video animated developed with Prawnimation.

About the project

Running over a five-year period, the samples will be obtained through 18 NHS Trusts, with patients followed up at specific intervals. From late 2020, researchers will be able to apply for access to samples stored in the biobank for future studies.

The NURTuRE biobank is funded by AbbVie Inc, AstraZeneca, Evotec AV, Retrophin, UCB Celltech Biopharma and Kidney Research UK.

The project is being jointly delivered through the University of Bristol, led by Professor Moin Saleem, Professor of Paediatric Renal Medicine, supported by Liz Colby as co-ordinator for the NURTuRE-INS (Nephros) study; and the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Maarten Taal, Professor of Medicine, supported by Fiona Robertson, co-ordinator of the NURTuRE-CKD study.

Biomarker analysis is taking place at the University of Geneva, histopathological (tissue) analysis and storage at the University of Birmingham, and biofluid samples stored at the UK national biobank at Milton Keynes.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have published an excellent article about the NURTuRE biorepository, which includes a video interview with Professor Maarten Taal. Read the full article here.

Kelly White, a Renal Research Nurse at Derby said:

"I feel privileged to be involved in NURTuRE.  It is a unique concept with potential to improve treatments for kidney patients and ultimately lead to better outcomes. It has been fantastic meeting patients with their enthusiasm and willingness to be involved in such an exciting project."

Skevvy Piponides was one of the first patients to get involved with NURTuRE:

"I was more than happy to help and the whole process has been so simple. They just took blood and urine samples, did some height and weight measurements, tested my memory skills and asked me a few other questions. It was all done during a routine appointment and they repeat the process in a year or so’s time. I’ve never been part of a research study before but, if my involvement can help other people like me, then that would be fantastic."

Elaine Davies, Director of Research Operations at Kidney Research UK added:

"The anonymised data contained within the NURTuRE biobank has the potential to unlock answers to some of the biggest questions about CKD and NS.The cross analysis of biological samples alongside clinical data will enable us to develop new biomarkers to help identify patients who will benefit from better, earlier diagnosis and person-specific new treatments, leading to better health outcomes.”

Further information

Visit the NURTuRE website for general information about the NURTuRE biobank including an update on how recruitment is going and how you can get involved.

A very interesting article published by the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) in October 2019 about the NURTuRE biorepository.

For any other information please contact: 

General information about biobanks and research registries.

The NURTuRE Biobank is a unique collaboration which combines the benefits of both research registries and biobanks.

A research registry is a database of clinical data from patients with a particular disease or condition. When a patient consents to become part of a research registry, they are allowing their electronic health record to be anonymised and added to the database, and giving permission for it to be accessed by investigators for research purposes.

Biorepositories (also called biobanks) are similar, but in addition to data they collect biological samples such as plasma (blood), serum, urine, DNA and tissue from biopsies, again for research purposes.

For researchers looking to analyse the progression of kidney disease, this provides a very efficient way of doing research because there is instant access to biological samples for laboratory analysis, historical patient records and test results, alongside information about which treatments were given and how patients responded.

For patients, this means a reduction in the burden of participating in multiple studies because extra hospital visits over and above routine clinical appointments are not usually necessary. More importantly, these studies will hopefully bring about real change for patients with kidney disease, leaving a legacy for them and researchers for many years to come.

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