March is #NationalKidneyMonth and we’re celebrating MDI Biological Laboratory’s longstanding and close connection to renal physiology, starting with Homer Smith, D. Sc., (1895-1962) the renowned scientist who made many significant contributions to the field – including identifying how the kidney works. He spent a period of his career at MDIBL and his determination and curiosity are attributes we always aim to emulate in our research.
We currently have two labs at MDIBL undertaking kidney research. The Drummond Lab is focused on the development of replacement kidney tissue and an artificial kidney. With the options for the treatment of kidney failure currently limited to dialysis and organ transplantation, an alternative cannot come too soon for many of the 38 million American adults dealing with kidney disease. Drummond is working in collaboration with other scientists to put the hugely complex puzzle of an artificial kidney together, as part of the (Re)Building a Kidney consortium, funded by the National Institutes of Health.
MDIBL President, Hermann Haller, M.D., has spent more than 40+ years as a physician scientist working to understand the complications of diabetes. Most recently, his interest has focused on the sugary surface of endothelial cell. The surface of cells are protected by glycocalyx (a mixture of sugar chains and proteins), of which the component, glycoprotein, is responsible for the health of the vasculature. Diabetes leads to diminishing of the glycocalyx, and his team’s work (alongside other research labs) was able to show that maintaining a healthy glycocalyx offsets and even prevents diabetic complications. The next step in research involves learning even more about the “sugary jungle” of the endothelial cells, to try to find novel mechanisms that might prevent diabetic complications.
You can learn more about MDIBL’s kidney research by reading our related blog posts, or by joining us on twitter, facebook or instagram, where we’ll be sharing facts and figures throughout #NationalKidneyMonth.