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What we did last year to accelerate discovery.

We increased our research investment this year to £9.84m, maximising opportunities to increase the pace and impact of positive change on kidney health, through collaboration, funding and innovation.

Driving dialysis advances

Dialysis is one of the most challenging forms of treatment for kidney failure and we are determined to accelerate improvements through our work including initiatives such as our MedTech competition.

Our funding will enable researchers at Keele University and the University of Bristol to develop training and resources to help dialysis patients better understand their treatment options, while a team at Queen Mary University is creating a wearable device to monitor the condition of patients’ fistulas (the large blood vessel is surgically created to connect to the haemodialysis machine).

In addition, Edinburgh based company Javelo Health will create new safety lines for children to protect and strengthen the connection between their blood vessels and the dialysis machine.

Boosting diversity in research studies

To truly understand kidney disease, we need to involve those most at risk in research. Last year, our multi award-winning peer educator initiative helped increase representation of marginalised groups within kidney research studies in a landmark project.

Working with the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, our peer educators met with people of all ethnicities from poorer areas of Greater Manchester. These conversations, including many in dialysis units, have already led to more people signing up to receive information and invitations to get involved in future research studies.

As trusted members of the communities, our trained volunteers’ interactions help to break down misconceptions and allay fears around participating in research.

Mike Nicholson, Normothermic Perfusion
Professor Mike Nicholson is researching how normothermic perfusion can be used to preserve donor kidneys

Transplant hope for minorities

We strive for discoveries that have the potential to bring about monumental changes for patients. Last year saw a major breakthrough when Kidney Research UK-funded researchers at the University of Cambridge successfully altered the blood type of three deceased donor kidneys.

Professor Mike Nicholson and PhD student Serena MacMillan used a normothermic perfusion machine to flush blood infused with an enzyme through the kidneys which removed the original blood type markers, converting the organs to the most common O blood type.

Changing a kidney’s blood type to the universal O could make access to kidney transplants fairer as O blood type kidneys can be used for people with any blood group. This could be particularly impactful for people from minority ethnic groups who are more likely to have the rarer B blood type which is currently more difficult to match.

Gaining knowledge through our biobank

Last year, NURTuRE – the first kidney biobank covering England, Scotland and Wales – increased its volume of samples and data and continued to raise its profile nationally and internationally.

Created through a Kidney Research UK facilitated collaboration with industry and academia, NURTuRE is a unique resource designed to support innovation in kidney research by linking biological samples and clinical data from patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS). Recruitment to these patient cohorts is complete and enrolment to the acute kidney injury (AKI) cohort is to begin in late 2023.

A new website and a data warehousing system is in development to allow many more carefully approved national and international kidney studies.

Front cover of the annual report. White backgroun with side view of muslin female doctor looking into a microsope

Annual report 2022-23

Read more from our annual report to find out how we're investing in research, awareness, and education to accelerate growth that will bring benefit to patients both now and in the future.

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