Renal doctor, S M Ammar Raza has been awarded a prestigious Kidney Research UK clinical training research fellowship to investigate kidney fibrosis.
Fibrosis – commonly known as scarring – features in most kidney diseases and can be caused by a variety of diseases; diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, infections, obstruction and various auto-immune conditions.
The scarring means kidneys can’t function properly and that can lead to serious problems, including renal failure with a need for dialysis or transplantation. One of the most serious complications associated with kidney disease is heart attacks. The majority of kidney failure patients die from heart attacks. Kidney failure also causes other serious problems like fluid build-up in the body, bone disease and anaemia.
Once the scarring has occurred there is no approved drug therapy currently available to reduce or reverse the damage. If the degree of scarring could be reduced, this would also reduce the various complications of kidney failure and improve the quality of life of patients and lower their chance of dying prematurely.
Dr Raza, who has been working in the Barnes Clinical Research Facility at Salford Royal, has now been awarded the fellowship to complete his PhD into the role of a molecule –SOX9 – in kidney fibrosis.
He said: “Chronic kidney disease affects 8-10 per cent of the population, including people of all ages, and if we can find a way to stabilise this fibrosis we can reduce the complications of the illness and potentially help many people. Kidney disease affects both quality of life and mortality – it’s a very serious condition and every year millions of people worldwide die prematurely because of complications related to CKD.
“We know that this molecule – which regulates the laying down of matrix, the structure surrounding our cells and holding them in place – is increased in kidney fibrosis. Scarring occurs when this matrix is laid down irregularly and that reduces kidney function. My research is investigating whether targeting this molecule also reduces fibrosis.”
Dr Raza will be carrying out his research into tissue samples at Dr Karen Piper Hanley’s laboratory at The University of Manchester, where she and her team specialise in investigating the mechanisms of broad organ fibrosis.