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Looking back at 2023: research highlights

28 December 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on a year filled with promising new grants and exciting research findings. Here we share some of our top research highlights from the year. 

These successes would not have been possible without our amazing supporters and researchers, so thank you for making it happen.  We look forward to another year of driving discoveries and making them count to improve the lives of people living with and at risk of kidney disease. 

Read about the research we've been funding with your support

Professor Stephen Marks
Professor Stephen Marks

Looking for new markers of kidney rejection in children to support personalised care

Professor Stephen Marks from University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health has been awarded the Laurence Isaacson Award to employ a research student to look for new ways to identify kidney rejection before it happens. By developing a new biomarker test that allows early signs of rejection to be identified promptly and in a non-invasive way, this work could transform the management of children with kidney transplants. 

Professor Kingsmore who is the chief investigator on the study.
Professor David Kingsmore

First patient joins new dialysis study

Back in June, we were delighted to announce that the first patient joined StAFF, a new research study designed to show the best option for safe, long-lasting access to blood vessels for patients who require haemodialysis but have sub-optimal blood vessels.

A portrait headshot of Professor de Angelis
Professor de Angelis

Researchers are making big steps in the search for a 'wearable kidney’

With a joint Kidney Research UK-Stoneygate grant, Professor Grazia de Angelis from the University of Edinburgh is working on new materials to support the development of a wearable artificial kidney. Grazia and her team are investigating the filter materials needed to miniaturise the dialysis machine, with the aim of eventually developing a machine that is wearable, in something as small as a backpack. 

Professor Moin Saleem, Dr Wen Ding and Professor Gavin Welsh (left to right)
Professor Moin Saleem, Dr Wen Ding and Professor Gavin Welsh (left to right)

New study shows potential of gene therapy in nephrotic syndrome

In August, we shared results from our researchers at the University of Bristol who have shown that just one dose of gene therapy targeting cells in the kidney called podocytes has the potential to cure steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome. This work offers real hope for patients impacted by steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome and potentially other genetic kidney diseases too. 

A male researcher in his lab wearing a checked shirt and white lab coat
Professor Richard Coward

Existing drug may prevent a leading cause of kidney failure in children

In October, we shared exciting new results from our researchers at the University of Bristol, showing how infection with a toxin-producing bacteria can lead to a condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome, a leading cause of kidney failure in children. The results suggest that early treatment with the drug eculizumab might prevent life-threatening kidney damage and death in some children. 

A head shot picture of Professor Adrian Woolf
Professor Adrian Woolf

Research offers hope of new treatments for children with inherited kidney problems

In November, we shared the results of a study led by Professors Adrian Woolf and Sue Kimber from the University of Manchester, funded by Kidney Research UK and other sources, which showed that by growing miniature kidneys (‘organoids’) in a laboratory we can learn important new information about kidney problems with genetic causes, and potentially find novel treatments. 

Sharlene Greenwood
Dr Sharlene Greenwood

Kidney Beam physical activity digital health programme improves mental health and self-management in kidney patients

Research published in The Lancet Digital Health by Dr Sharlene Greenwood from King’s College Hospital, London, has shown that patients who used the Kidney Beam exercise and lifestyle management app, developed with support from Kidney Research UK and King’s College Hospital NHS Trust, had improvements in mental health, the ability to self-manage their condition, and physical function when compared to patients who did not access Kidney Beam. 

An Asian man, earing a white shirt with a stethoscope
Professor Neeraj Dhaun

New research offers hope of revolutionising approaches to monitoring kidney health

In December we shared results from our researchers at the University of Edinburgh who have shown that specialised eye scans using an imaging technology called optical coherence tomography (OCT) could be used to monitor kidney disease progression. 

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