Researchers at the University of Lincoln have received an additional £100,000 from a leading national charity to fund their work understanding the mechanisms behind kidney damage in diabetes.

The award of both a three-year Diabetes UK PhD Studentship (Professor Squires and Dr Hills) and a Diabetes UK Early Career Grant (Dr Hills), provides further generous support to the Diabetes Research Group. The Group will examine how modification of the extracellular matrix impacts on the way in which cells of the kidney talk to each other in periods of stress, as seen in diabetes.

Kidney - shutterstock

Fibrosis of the kidney represents the main underlying pathology of diabetic nephropathy and occurs following a series of events, including accumulation of the extracellular matrix. This substrate is a collection of molecules secreted by cells that normally provides both structural and biochemical support. In diabetes, changes to the delicate balance between cells and their surrounding substrate can disrupt the way in which cells talk to each other and their immediate environment. These subtle changes can severely alter kidney function.

Dr Hills said: “To date, there has been little success in developing a targeted therapeutic to prevent fibrosis in the tubular region of the diabetic kidney. In collaboration with our clinical colleagues, this Diabetes UK funded work will address how glucose, in addition to the down-stream stress molecule transforming growth factor beta, can modify the micro-environment around cells of the proximal kidney, to regulate interactions between cells and their immediate surroundings.”

The Group will target identified proteins/pathways and assess the implications of intervention on preventing detrimental changes associated with the underlying fibrosis of diabetic kidney disease. The study of diabetes and its complications is a major research theme across the University and the Research Group at Lincoln is indebted to Diabetes UK for their continued support.