Sanford kidney development study selected for NIH funding

A Sanford Research scientist studying kidney development has received $1.45 million from the National Institutes of Health to further explore how certain cells of the organ develop. Kameswaran Surendran, Ph.D., secured the award under the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Surendran’s study will focus on understanding the underlying mechanisms that determine the different cells that make up kidney collecting ducts. The different cell types of the kidney collecting ducts perform unique functions of the kidneys like regulation of water, electrolyte and pH homeostasis. When the kidney collecting ducts malfunction, it can lead to renal disease.

“This research is fundamental to understanding how collecting duct cells differentiate,” said Surendran. “Because we have limited knowledge on these cells, this study may be able to help the scientific community better understand and treat renal disease. In the future, this knowledge may be applied to generating kidneys for patients unable to receive kidneys from living donors.”

Findings from this study, according to Surendran, could provide more information on genetic mutations that alter collecting duct cell functions and subsequently identify new therapy options for diseases in these cells. Additionally, a better understanding of these cells is the basis of generating kidneys from patient-derived adult stem cells.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 10 percent of U.S. adults, or more than 20 million people, have some degree of chronic kidney disease. According to Johns Hopkins University’s Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, around 1 in 500 children are born with abnormally developed kidneys due to genetic defects, which can lead to end-stage kidney disease.

A kidney transplant is currently the best treatment option for end-stage kidney disease, said Surendran. Because there is a shortage of kidney donors, his study is important to improve the survival rate of end-stage renal disease patients.

Surendran is an associate scientist in the Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford Research. An expert on kidney development and disorders, he joined Sanford Research after philanthropist Denny Sanford’s $400 million gift in 2007 helped expand children’s and research initiatives.

The NIH, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Policy, is the nation’s medical research agency. Research reported was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health under Award Number 1R01DK106135-01A1. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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