Finding cures for children's genetic diseases


International collaboration on chronic kidney disease


A Children's Medical Research Institute scientist was part of an international research project that could improve survival for transplant and immunosuppressed patients, as well as lead to more effective treatments for chronic kidney disease.

Dr Leszek Lisowski is Group Leader of the Translational Vectorology at CMRI and Manager of the Vector Genome and Engineering Facility. He was one of the authors of the publication about kidney disease which came out in science journal Cell  on September 14.

Department Head for Paediatric Nephrology at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Professor Stephen Alexander described the research as “very exciting’’.

“They’ve identified a unique virus causing chronic kidney disease which is very exciting for a number of reasons,’’ Prof Alexander said.

Chronic kidney disease affects up to 18 per cent of adults across the world and the incidence continues to rise. Up until this point, most models of chronic kidney disease have failed to capture the nature of the disease which has contributed to the lack of effective treatments in the clinic.

This research identified a virus that causes kidney fibrosis and renal failure with a disease progression closely recapitulating the progression of human chronic kidney disease, making it an ideal model and a powerful tool to study human disease. This novel model will provide new avenues for exploring cellular and molecular pathways in kidney disease to develop targeted therapies. It is also particularly relevant for transplant and other immunosuppressed patients, where most deaths are due to virally-induced kidney failure.

Professor Alexander said it provides a model of chronic kidney disease which could assist in looking at new treatments.

 “Whether patients may have chronic kidney disease, caused by an infection, is not something that has been identified before. This could provide a potential pathway for identifying unrecognised causes of kidney failure and of chronic injury in transplant kidneys.’’

Dr Lisowski said the research could potentially lead to the development of a powerful model of chronic kidney disease.

“This could be used to understand the disease and test treatment options.’’

This collaborative effort involved researchers from several Sydney-based organisations, including the Centenary Institute in Newtown, The University of Sydney, The University of Technology Sydney and Children’s Medical Research Institute in Westmead. It also drew upon teams from leading universities in the U.S. and Austria.

“This study is a perfect example of the power of scientific collaborations: neither of the research teams involved would have been able to complete this study alone, but by combining forces we created an international team that was stronger than the sum of all individual parts,’’ Dr Lisowski said.

The paper titled, “An atypical parvovirus driving chronic tubulointerstitial nephropathy and kidney fibrosis’’, will be released in print on 4th October.
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