Skip to content

Can sugar patterns help to predict kidney disease?

23 February 2024

Dr Andrew Chetwynd from the University of Liverpool has been awarded a Kidney Research UK senior fellowship award of £303,000 to investigate whether the patterns of sugars on immune proteins can predict kidney damage. 

The problem when IgA attacks the kidneys

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an immune system protein that helps to protect the body from infections. IgA-mediated glomerulonephritis (IgA-GN) is a condition where, instead of protecting, IgA mistakenly attacks and damages the tiny filtering units of the kidneys.

This is the most common cause of kidney disease in adults and children. Sometimes the damage is so bad that either dialysis or transplant is needed. If we can understand more about what is causing IgA-GN, we may be able to develop better ways to diagnose and treat it. 

Andrew Chetwynd
Andrew Chetwynd

The solution to look at sugar patterns

Proteins like IgA can be changed when sugars are attached to them. When someone has kidney disease, the patterns of sugars on proteins can change and these changes can alter the shape and job of the protein, which can affect kidney health.

Andrew will analyse how these changes in sugar patterns might contribute to IgA-GN, and whether they might be able to explain why kidney disease can affect adults and children differently. He will also study how the sugar patterns change over time to find potential markers that show how the disease might progress or get better. 

Andrew will develop methods to pick up changes in these sugar patterns using devices that can be used at home and posted to the lab, making it easier for more people to participate. 

What this might mean for patients

The goal of this research is to be able to predict who will develop kidney damage so that steps can be taken to prevent it. In the process, this work may also uncover possible new targets to treat kidney disease. 

“The support from Kidney Research UK for this fellowship is an incredible step in my career and enables my continued development as a scientist. This work will help understand the mechanisms behind IgA-mediated glomerulonephritis and potentially help find biomarkers to allow greater predictive power for those who will develop kidney disease or as targets for treatment.” Dr Andrew Chetwynd

Read about the research we're funding

Why not make a donation now?

(Every £ counts)

Scroll To Top