A new study that investigated cell-to-cell communication could offer a viable therapeutic target for the control and treatment of a number of renal diseases, including diabetic nephropathy.

Professor Paul Squires, Dr Claire Hills and Gareth Price, from the School of Life Sciences, have reviewed the understanding of how cells in the nephron (the functional unit of the kidney), communicate with one another to co-ordinate their activity.

The resulting paper ‘Mind the gap: connexins and cell–cell communication in the diabetic kidney’ is to be published in Diabetologia – the highest impact European Journal for Diabetes Research.

Kidney damage and reduced kidney function is a major complication of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus. As the incidence of diabetes continues to increase, further therapeutic approaches are urgently required to combat the long-term complications of this lifelong incapacitating metabolic disease.

Dr Hills said: “Our study highlights recent evidence demonstrating that maintenance of cell–to-cell communication by proteins called connexins, could benefit renal function in diabetes and suggests that they represent a tantalising target to slow or prevent kidney complications of the disease.”

Click here to see the paper online.