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A new approach to BK virus infection

29 March 2023

Professor Andrew Macdonald’s work is supported by a Kidney Research UK grant of £230,000.

The problem

Kidney transplants have saved many lives. However, the medicines that must be taken to avoid transplant rejection by the immune system (known as ‘immunosuppression’) can increase the risk of infection. Although BK virus is common, and usually not severe in healthy individuals, infection with this virus is of particular concern for people who have received a kidney transplant. Currently in cases of BK infection in kidney transplant recipients, immunosuppressive treatment may have to be reduced until the infection is cleared. In order to avoid the potentially serious complications of BK virus, a new way of managing this infection is required. 

Professor Andrew Macdonald
Professor Andrew Macdonald

The solution

Andrew and his colleagues want to investigate a gene called CFTR and the role it might play in BK virus infection. The CFTR gene is most well-known for its role in the inherited lung disorder cystic fibrosis. Treatments available to target CFTR in cystic fibrosis, making it an important option to explore in kidney disease. 

What this might mean for kidney patients

If Andrew is successful in finding a new approach to managing BK infection, this will allow transplant recipients to be treated without changing their level of immunosuppression. 

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