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UK Renal Fibrosis Network

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Following kidney injury or disease, damage can often be repaired and organ function restored.  However, in some cases the normal healing response fails, scarring continues and this can cause chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Progressive scarring replaces normal kidney tissue with fibrotic tissue and kidney function is lost.  Ultimately, this can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or kidney transplantation.  Therapies that can slow or halt progressive scarring are limited and although there is an increasing portfolio of pre-clinical research into the mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets for this condition there is still no effective anti-fibrotic medication available for treating patients with CKD.

Who we are

The UK Renal Fibrosis Network (UKRFN) is supported by Kidney Research UK and jointly led by:

  • Professor Claire Sharpe, Professor of Renal Medicine at King’s College London/King’s College Hospital
  • Professor Jill Norman, Professor of Experimental Nephrology, University College, London,
  • Professor Neil Sheerin, Professor of Nephrology, Newcastle University Medical School.

The Network is comprised of clinicians and scientists involved in research into the diagnosis, mechanisms, biomarkers and treatment of renal fibrosis. There is no fixed membership and anyone interested in this field is welcome to join the network.

Professor Claire Sharpe
Professor Claire Sharpe
Professor Jill Norman
Professor Jill Norman
Professor Neil Sheerin
Professor Neil Sheerin

Our aims:

The UKRFN was established to identify barriers to the translation of pre-clinical work in this field and to promote collaborations to overcome them.

Key workstreams:

We have identified four major barriers to translation that need addressing:

  • Lack of biomarkers for:
    • Diagnosis and identification of renal fibrosis
    • Prediction of future progression
    • Indication of response to treatment
  • Poor and inconsistent rodent models of disease with large strain variation
  • Poor access to human tissue for mechanistic studies and target validation
  • Challenges in clinical trial design due to the slowly progressive nature of the disease.

We have established a collaboration with the Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) biobank and NHS BT with the aim of improving researchers’ access to human kidney tissue and primary cell cultures.  We are currently preparing funding applications to support this venture.

Evidence gaps and challenges:

By addressing the above barriers to translation, we hope to open the door to the development of new therapeutics for CKD. We are working closely with the UK Regenerative Medicine Network, the UK Renal Imaging Network and the UK AKI Network.

Got a question? Get in touch.

For more information and to find out about getting involved as a patient or researcher, contact:

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