Innovative molecular approaches to prevent dialysis-related peritoneal fibrosis

Principal Investigator – Professor Adrian S. Woolf

Peritoneal dialysis is often used to keep people with kidney failure alive. Patients are fitted with a tube into the tummy, through which fluid flows in and out to remove dangerous waste products from the body. Unfortunately, a feared complication is scarring inside the abdomen. In some cases, people’s bowels can eventually become cocooned in hardened tissue, and this can be life-threatening. We believe that the scarring can start when ‘mesothelial cells, the internal lining of the abdomen, are injured. We recently discovered a way to purify these cells and observe them as they form scars in a dish. We also discovered that specific harmful genes control this process. In this study, we will alter the activity of these genes to block scarring. Our study will be of the utmost importance to design new medicines to prevent peritoneal scarring in kidney patients.