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We award new grant to understand how kidney cysts form

11 June 2021

Thanks to our funding, Dr Richard Naylor from the University of Manchester will begin a study to understand what makes kidney cysts grow. Understanding this better may reveal clues for new treatments to improve the lives of people living with cysts in their kidneys.

Kidney cysts can be harmful

One in ten people under 50, and one in five over 50 develop fluid filled sacs, or cysts, in their kidneys. Cysts are often harmless, but they can affect how well kidneys work and be painful if they become too large or get infected.

Cysts are a feature in many kidney diseases, including polycystic kidney disease, the leading genetic cause of chronic kidney disease. We do not fully understand how and why cysts form in the kidney, but we do know that the cells within them divide many times, allowing the cyst to continue growing.

Richard Naylor in his lab doing research
Richard Naylor

Investigating matrix proteins

Richard’s fellowship grant of £209,255 will allow him to investigate what makes cysts grow. He has previously discovered that the proteins that surround the cells - the matrix - are important in allowing cells within cysts to carry on dividing.

Richard will use zebrafish and human kidney organoids - miniature kidneys in a dish - as models of cyst formation to investigate how changes in these matrix proteins affect cyst growth. This work has the potential to reveal new targets for patient treatments that will improve the lives of people living with cysts in their kidneys.

Supporting our next generation of leaders

Our intermediate training fellowships help promising early career researchers to gain experience and become independent scientists.

“I am excited to get going on my project, which I believe will have a major impact on our understanding of how cysts form and grow in the kidney,” said Richard. “I will use this fellowship as a baseline from which I can build up a world-leading research group with a focus on how the extracellular matrix affects kidney development and disease. My change in job title, from Associate to Fellow, means I can start this building process now by applying for a PhD student to help me in my fellowship and also to develop other ideas I wish to pursue.”

Find out more

Read more about our newly funded research.

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