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Tuning molecule signals to protect kidneys

Project summary

Living with diabetes can increase the risk of kidney disease, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease. Professor Luigi Gnudi has found a new protein that can tune signalling molecules to protect kidney cells and blood vessels. Understanding how the protein does this could help researchers to develop new treatments that can heal damaged kidney cells and also lower the risk of heart and blood vessel problems for people living with diabetes. 

Background to research

People living with diabetes can be at a higher risk of kidney disease, and having kidney disease also puts people at risk of heart disease and problems with blood vessels. 

sNogo-B is a new protein that’s been found in the blood, and high levels of this seem to protect people with diabetes from kidney disease. 

Prof Gnudi has found that sNogo-B does this by helping to ‘turn on’ or ‘turn up’ specific signalling molecules in the blood, and these signals can have a protective effect on blood vessels and kidney cells. He wants to find out more about exactly how this works. 

Research aims

Prof Gnudi and his team will use sNogo-B to tune these signals up and down, and on and off in kidney cells. They’re looking to see if there’s a difference in the effects depending on whether the cells are grown in normal conditions, or conditions that simulate diabetes.  

They’ll also do this in mice with and without diabetes, and measure how well sNogo-B can protect cells and blood vessels in their kidneys. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Understanding more about how sNogo-B works could help scientists to develop new treatments for kidney disease that don’t just protect kidney cells, but also all the blood vessels in the whole body.  Such treatments could help to lower the risk of heart disease for people living with diabetes too, protecting them from the serious harm diabetes can cause. 

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