Skip to content

What can we learn about rare genetic kidney diseases and response to treatment from cells collected from urine?

11 October 2023

Dr Stephen Walsh from University College London has received a PhD Studentship Grant of £91,000 to develop new, personalised ways to diagnose and treat kidney disease using cells collected from urine.

The problem

Many kidney diseases affect a specific type of cell within the kidney, and it can be difficult to understand the exact problems leading to an individual’s condition. Biopsies (small samples studied under the microscope) are often used, but are painful, invasive and offer limited information.

A headshot of a man wearing a white shirt and black jumper
Dr Stephen Walsh, University College London

The solution

Stephen is going to collect urine from kidney patients and isolate a type of cell called ‘tubular cells’ that are sometimes present.

Working with a new PhD student, he will isolate and treat tubular cells to stop them from dying, before growing them on a ‘chip’ as a miniature 3D-model. The team will use this chip to study how the cells function, and respond to different treatments, giving results that are unique to the patient and supporting new approaches to diagnosis.

An image showing cells of from a urine samle
3D cell culture

What this means for patients

This approach could be an important step towards personalised treatments by offering an exciting new way to look at how cells from different individuals function. Studying cells from urine offers a less intrusive approach to diagnosis than biopsy, and by testing treatment response in the lab the team hope to offer a simpler and more effective approach to managing complex kidney conditions. This approach can also be used to develop new treatments, potentially making research faster and cheaper.

Find out more

Read more about Stephen’s work here:

Research news

Why not make a donation now?

(Every £ counts)

Scroll To Top