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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

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New hope for kidney disease

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Chronic kidney  disease (CKD) can be caused by a number of factors, and results in permanent,  irreversible scarring of the kidney leading to end-stage renal disease (ESRD).  Once a patient has reached this point their only option is dialysis or  transplantation.

Research  led by Monash University scientists has shown for the first time the  effectiveness of combining a stem cell-based therapy with an anti-scarring  agent to reverse scarring and markers of kidney injury, reducing the need for  dialysis or transplantation.

Associate Professor Sharon Ricardo, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology,  said the researchers had discovered that adult stem cells, combined with a  protein called serelaxin, could reverse scarring.

“Adult stem cells have proved promising for the  treatment of a wide rage of diseases, including kidney disease,” she said.

“We decided to investigate how adult stem cells  could help reduce the scarring effect. We demonstrated that adult stem cells  and serelaxin on their own have a limited effect on reversing kidney scarring,  yet when used in combination with serelaxin can provide significant protection  from kidney damage.”

Associate Professor Ricardo said the adult  cells did not turn into kidney cells, rather they help the injured kidney  repair itself.

“However, the potential of these stem cells is  reduced in patients who have a lot of scarring due to the disease.”

Associate Professor Chrishan Samuel, Department  of Pharmacology, said serelaxin was currently undergoing phase III  clinical trials assessing its ability to treat symptoms and end-stage mortality  in patients with acute heart failure.

“We believe that by reducing the scarring  associated with chronic kidney disease, serelaxin creates an improved  environment for the administration of stem cells, and can directly improve the viability and therapeutic efficacy of introduced stem cells,” he said.

PhD candidate Brooke Huuskes, Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology,  said the finding was important as kidney disease was increasing worldwide  placing huge economic burden on health care systems.

“There is no cure for kidney disease, and  alarmingly three out of four people on dialysis will die waiting for a kidney  transplant, and even those who are lucky enough to receive a transplant often  end up back on dialysis due to rejection or graft failure,” she said.

Brooke, who had a kidney transplant in 2010,  said it meant a lot to her to be able to do research into something that was  very personal to her and that she was passionate about.

The research was published in The Journal of  the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

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