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Identifying priorities at the Primary Prevention Workshop

21 May 2024

A team from Kidney Research UK travelled to London on 16 May to host our Primary Prevention Workshop, with the aim of identifying the key research priorities to reduce the burden of kidney disease in children and young people.

We were joined by researchers and healthcare professionals with experience in this area, and by patients, to better understand what can go wrong during development, so that we can improve outcomes for kidney patients.

Aisling McMahon, executive director of research, commented “This workshop is an important day for Kidney Research UK because it allows us to come together, share knowledge and identify the key research questions that still need answering. To ensure that less children develop kidney problems we need to better understand how early life and development impacts kidney disease risk later in life.”

An overview of the day 

The day started with some powerful patient stories and perspectives highlighting the importance of understanding early life impacts on kidney disease risk in later life. This was followed by a series of exciting scientific presentations looking at the latest research into factors impacting kidney health during development. The day included many insightful discussions and ended with a collaborative feedback session, to pinpoint key research areas and themes.

Delegates at the workshop sitting in a circle discussing ideas
Professor Jeremy Hughes leading a discussion group

Research highlights  

Professor Michiel Schreuder discussed how early risk factors in children, such as low birth weight, diabetes and inflammation, may contribute to the development of kidney disease in later life. We then heard from Dr Lieke Hoogenboom who is exploring the causes of this association, which could lead to targeted treatment in the future.  

Dr Lucy Plumb highlighted the importance of large datasets and screening to look at risk factors in children for rare and hereditary kidney diseases.  

We heard about cell senescence (cells that have stopped dividing and no longer contribute to repair and growth) from Professor Jeremy Hughes. 

Genes, sections of inherited instructions (DNA) that determine an individual's traits, play a role in the development of some rare and hereditary kidney diseases and Professor Moin Saleem discussed the importance of identifying these early in children.

Professor Adrian Woolf, from the University of Manchester, joined us to discuss growing kidneys in the lab and the potential of gene therapy.

Lastly, Nida Ziauddeen discussed the findings of her work on the ethnic differences in kidney size in children.

Next steps in primary prevention 

“The outcome of the day is to develop a paper that summarises our discussions so that we can collaborate in approaches to overcome kidney disease.” Aisling McMahon, executive director of research.

The patient voice is always an important enabler for what we do. We want to empower patients and their families to enable earlier screening and improve communication that allows them to make better informed decisions.  

We need to see the implementation of early screening for kidney disease as a priority and work towards a future that uses health data to build new national standards for diagnosis and prevention. We’d like to thank everyone who participated and hope you see many researchers at our annual conference ‘Driving Discoveries’ on 4-5 September.   

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