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Lymphatics: a new treatment target for kidney disease in people with diabetes?

Project summary

Dr David Long and his colleagues are investigating the function of kidney lymphatic vessels in diabetic kidney disease. This will help us to understand whether targeting lymphatic vessels could be a novel treatment strategy for diabetic kidney disease. 

Background to research

Research has shown that lymphatic vessels (a system of vessels responsible for carrying immune cells around the body) in the kidneys play an important role in transporting fluid and clearing cells that cause inflammation.

Dr Long and his colleagues have recently provided new insights into their function. They have developed a new therapy using a protein called VEGF-C to treat polycystic kidney disease (PKD).   

Diabetic nephropathy (or diabetic kidney disease) is a complication of diabetes that is caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys. Despite the importance of fluid balance and inflammation in people with diabetic kidney disease, there has been little research into the function of lymphatic vessels, or whether treatments targeting lymphatic vessels can be used to treat it.

Using their recent findings to treat polycystic kidney disease, Dr Long and his colleagues will now investigate how kidney lymphatics contribute to the progression of diabetic kidney disease.        

Research aims

Dr Long and his colleagues will study the function of lymphatic vessels in mice that have diabetic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes, to help identify whether targeting these vessels could serve as a new treatment in the future.  

They will examine lymphatic vessels in the kidneys in detail during the early and late phases of diabetic kidney disease, to see if they're associated with its development. Firstly, they'll measure the number and size of kidney lymphatic vessels, to see if these increase as diabetic kidney disease progresses.

They will then examine the individual lymphatic cells to find out if they behave differently in mice with diabetes compared to mice without.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Currently there is no cure for diabetic kidney disease and we need treatments that can halt its progression. This study will investigate the role of kidney lymphatic vessels in the development of diabetic kidney disease, to help us to understand whether targeting these lymphatic vessels could potentially act as a future avenue for new treatments.

This project has been adopted by:

Diabetes UK local groups: Havering, Southampton and District
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