Research design

£1m awarded to improve IgA nephropathy kidney disease research

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Researchers in the UK have received substantial funding of £1 million to advance research into IgA nephropathy, a type of incurable chronic kidney disease.

The funding comes on March 10, 2022, World Kidney Day, and is a generous donation from longtime kidney health advocate Jimmy Mayer. The investment will allow experts from the University of Leicester to advance research into IgA Nephropathy (IgAN). This chronic kidney disease mainly affects young adults between the ages of 20 and 30 and currently has no cure.

The investment will enable the University of Leicester team to obtain specialist equipment, such as a state-of-the-art system to study activated genes in kidneys with IgA nephropathy and will help facilitate collaboration with companies pharmaceuticals to design new drugs. to treat the disease.

What is IgA nephropathy?

IgA nephropathy affects two to three people in 100,000 and around 10% of people on dialysis worldwide. The disease can reduce the ability of the kidney to filter waste products from the blood, leading to kidney failure.

Around three million people in the UK suffer from chronic kidney disease, and 64,000 people rely on dialysis or a transplant to stay alive. Although IgA Nephropathy can affect anyone, it is much more common in people from East and Southeast Asian countries, including China, India, and Japan. The researchers are confident that their research will help reduce the risk of developing kidney failure in a patient if they have IgA nephropathy.

How will the funding be used?

Funder Jimmy Mayer has supported the University’s research for many years, establishing his IgA Mayer Nephropathy Laboratory and increasing his team of researchers. To date, he has invested over £4million to develop new treatments and therapies for the disease.

Mayer commented, “My son was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2012, and like any father would, I started researching to better understand this condition. I wanted to know what could be done and how I could modestly contribute to these efforts. Through my investigation, I became aware of the broader implication of kidney disease in our society.

“I also discovered the great work of the fabulous Leicester team. I hopped on a train for a visit and have been their number one fan ever since. I sincerely hope that with these efforts they can make significant progress toward a more complete understanding of IgA Nephropathy, improved treatment options, and, perhaps, even a cure.

A series of breakthroughs have already been achieved by the team, including:

  • The discovery of the key defect in the IgA molecule responsible for IgAN and its genetic basis,
  • The completion of the first genetic study aimed at identifying the main risk genes for IgAN,
  • Lead the development of the international scoring system for IgAN renal biopsies,
  • Leading the group that produced the international guidelines on how to deal with IgAN,
  • Currently working with over 25 life science industry partners on novel approaches to IgAN processing.

Professor Jonathan Barrat, Honorary Consultant Nephrologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Head of the Renal Research Group within the College of Life Sciences, said: “We are at an exciting time in the history of IgA Nephropathy and within touching distance of finally being able to provide safe and effective treatments for patients with this devastating kidney disease.

“Jimmy and David’s support of our research has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of IgAN and providing us with access to cutting-edge technologies to study this important cause of kidney failure. We hope that with continued support, we will be able to remove once and for all the specter of kidney failure that looms over the lives of young people with IgA Nephropathy.

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Leicester, added: “We are deeply grateful to Mr Mayer and indeed to all of our philanthropic partners who are helping to enable a groundbreaking research at our university.

“Leicester has a strong track record of investing in the best science for kidney research, and this generous donation will enable us to continue that commitment. Today, IgAN research at Leicester is more crucial than ever, and we have fully embraced a ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach to research in this area to help improve patient outcomes at scale. world.

Additionally, the research is supported by the NIHR, Kidney Research UK, local, national and international donors, collaboration with life science industry partners and the UK IgA Nephropathy patient community, among others. .

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