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Increasing the lifespan of kidneys from elderly donors

08 September 2022

Renal failure can be quite devastating, and the current treatments are either dialysis or kidney transplantation. Kidney transplantation is the most effective form of treatment but there is a shortage of kidneys available for transplant. Because of this shortage, many patients wait long periods before they can receive transplants.

To reduce waiting times, more than ever before, kidneys from deceased donors over the age of 60 are being used. Kidneys from these donors have however been identified to be more susceptible to tissue damage and have a shorter lifespan than those from young or living donors. But what if there was a way to improve the quality of kidneys from elderly donors? 

Professor Patricia Murray
Professor Patricia Murray

The solution

Professor Patricia Murray from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with transplant surgeon, Professor Marc Clancy (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde), will recruit a PhD student to work on improving the quality of these suboptimal kidneys using a process known as ex vivo perfusion in combination with cell therapy. The cell therapy used in this project has the potential to promote the repair of injured renal tissue, thereby improving the health and lifespan of the transplanted kidneys.

In a laboratory setting, Patricia and her team are looking to deliver the cell therapy to suboptimal kidneys by the renal artery, and closely monitor the effect on renal function. The cells they will use are called adipose-derived regenerative cells (ADRC), which are cells derived from body fat that are known to promote the repair of injured tissue. They also hope to be able to identify the optimal dose of cells that needs to be delivered into kidneys to achieve the best results. In addition, Patricia and her team hope to test a novel scanner to view cells delivered to the kidneys to ensure that cells are distributed evenly throughout the kidney. 

What this means for patients

If successful, the lifespan of kidneys from elderly deceased donors could be improved. Also, kidneys that may have been discarded could be made suitable for transplant, which could lead to a reduction in transplant waiting time, and an improvement in the health of kidney patients. 

Patricia said:” Our team is really pleased to be awarded this studentship. It will enable us to develop strategies for imaging the cells within the kidneys while simultaneously monitoring the effect of the cells on kidney function. We hope that the knowledge generated from this project will help to optimise the cell therapy so that we will be able to progress to starting a clinical trial in the near future” 

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