Generous donation to enhance pioneering kidney research at Leicester

Posted by: Jamie Sharp - Posted on:

Pioneering research by the University of Leicester into chronic kidney disease has received another major boost thanks to a £1 million donation. 

The donation from long term supporter Jimmy Mayer will enable Leicester Kidney Research Group to continue its ground-breaking research into IgA Nephropathy (IgAN), a kidney disease for which there is currently no cure and which affects young adults aged 20 to 30.

Mr Mayer’s son, David, was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2012. Since then, Jimmy has donated more than £4 million towards research to better understand the life-changing condition. 

Professor Jonathan Barratt leads the Kidney Research Group within the College of Life Sciences and is an Honorary Consultant Nephrologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. He also holds the title of the Mayer Chair in Renal Medicine.

The group’s vision is to identify new medicines to improve the care of patients with kidney disease by utilising state-of-the-art experimental approaches to better understand chronic kidney disease and its causes, improving the clinical care of patients all over the world.

Researchers are already investigating the genes which are switched on and off in the kidneys in IgAN – and eventually hope to collaborate further with pharmaceutical companies in the creation of new drugs.

Professor Barratt said: “This debilitating kidney condition affects thousands of people worldwide but our work here in Leicester is bringing us closer than ever to the development of safe and effective treatments for patients.

“The continued support of Jimmy and David towards our research has been fundamental to ensuring our work to find the causes of this devastating kidney disease proceeds at a meaningful pace.”

Mr Mayer said: “We are proud to support this world-class team in its efforts to improve patient outcomes and advance kidney disease research.”

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Leicester, added: “This generous gift will enable us to invest in the vital science needed for kidney research. We remain deeply grateful to Mr Mayer for helping in our journey towards world-changing research in this important area of medicine. Our aim is to improve patient outcomes across the globe.”

Already, the team at Leicester has made substantial breakthroughs into understanding the disease, including:

• The discovery of the key abnormality of the IgA molecule which causes IgAN and its genetic basis

• Delivering the first genetic study to identify key risk genes for IgAN

• Driving the development of the international scoring system for IgAN kidney biopsies

• Leading the group that produced the international guidelines on how to treat IgAN

• Currently working with over 25 life sciences industry partners on new approaches to treat IgAN

IgA Nephropathy affects approximately two to three people per one hundred thousand and ten per cent of patients receiving dialysis in the world. Over time it can hamper the kidney’s ability to filter waste products from the blood and can eventually result in kidney failure.

In the UK, around three million people have chronic kidney disease, whilst 64,000 people are reliant on dialysis or a transplant to stay alive.

Though the disease can affect anyone, IgAN is more common amongst people from East and South East Asian countries, such as India, China and Japan. 

Kidney research at the University of Leicester is supported by the NIHR, Kidney Research UK, local, national and international donors, collaboration with life sciences industry partners and the UK IgA Nephropathy Patient Community among others.