People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing kidney disease, but we don’t fully understand how it develops. Dr Robert Menzies wants to study a specific molecule, called P2X7R, to see if it’s responsible for the narrowing of the small blood vessels at the early stages of kidney disease. This research would help us to better understand how kidney disease develops, so we can find new ways to treat it.
Background to research
People with diabetes are at high risk of developing complications, such as kidney disease. We know that this risk can be reduced by keeping blood glucose levels and blood pressure under control, but we still don’t fully understand how kidney problems develop in people with diabetes.
Dr Menzies’ research suggests that poor blood flow through the kidneys is linked to a molecule called P2X7R. P2X7R is normally found in blood vessels and is responsible for contracting them, but the levels are higher in people with diabetes. Dr Menzies believes that too much P2X7R may lead to the blood vessels narrowing, which means that too little blood flows through the kidneys and stops them working properly.
Dr Menzies and his team want to find out how P2X7R could be involved in kidney disease. They’ll look at what happens when there isn’t any P2X7R, focusing especially on how well the kidneys work. Dr Menzies wants to see if blood vessels and kidneys can be protected by removing P2X7R.
They’ll also study the function of the kidneys and heart, and look at how blood vessels behave, when P2X7R isn’t there. Finally, the team are interested in the cells that make P2X7R and want to understand what they do in more detail.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
We desperately need better treatment options for people with kidney disease. This research could help us understand how kidney disease develops, so that new ways to treat or even prevent kidney damage can be found.