NUI Galway leads stem-cell research on diabetic kidney disease

EU-funded project will involve clinical trials next year in three countries

NUI Galway is leading a €6 million research project to test a stem-cell therapy treatment for diabetic kidney disease.

Some 48 patients with the condition in Ireland, England and Italy will take part in clinical trials next year to test the treatment, using cells purified from healthy donor bone marrow.

Diabetic kidney disease is complication of the condition known as diabetes mellitusmellitus. It is estimated that 200 million people could be at risk of developing it by 2040.

In most cases, drugs, dialysis and kidney transplants are the main treatments, but all are costly and provide limited protection, according to the research team.

The new EU-funded project, led by NUIG Regenerative Medicine Institute director Prof Timothy O'Brien, will evaluate a type of "next-generation" cell therapy discovered by researchers at the NUIG campus company Orbsen Therapeutics.

Known as the novel stromal cell therapy for diabetic kidney disease (Nephstrom) project, it involves 11 European partners. It builds on pre-clinical research in an existing EU-funded project also co-ordinated by Prof O’Brien.

Researchers hope the treatment will "significantly slow" or halt the disease altogether. World-renowned kidney disease expert Prof Giuseppe Remuzzi will lead the trial across the centres from May 2016.