Hypertension & Renal

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Hypertension & Renal

The World Health Organization call hypertension the “silent killer”. High blood pressure is the major risk factor driving the global crisis of non-communicable disease, chiefly Cardiovascular Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease. These diseases reduce the quality of life for millions of people and the medical care is costly (~£2bn per year for the NHS). Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide: patients with kidney disease are more likely to die of a cardiovascular complication than progress to renal failure. The Hypertension and Renal theme focusses research on these global health challenges. Our collaborative team of clinical and biomedical scientists is defining the underlying causes of cardiovascular and kidney disease, with the dual aims of disease prevention and improved outcomes for patients. Our complementary research expertise allows us to address a wide portfolio of research projects, ranging from fundamental processes of kidney development and whole animal physiology through to experimental medicine and clinical trials. We are committed to enhancing public understanding of the risks associated with renal disease and hypertension, achieving this through public lectures, engagement activities with schools and interaction with mainstream media. Our Principal Investigators have a strong track record external funding and our Biomedical and Clinical Research Fellows have support from The British Heart Foundation  and Kidney Research UK and Medical Research Council. Our established collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry places us in a leading research position and places emphasis on taking basic science concepts through to the clinical arena.


Case Studies

Retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT): using the eye as a window on the kidney

Retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT) has transformed how we image the eye, enabling non-invasive, high-resolution, cross-sectional imaging of the retina in vivo. There is growing interest in retinal OCT as a novel method for identifying patients at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  More information

The hunger for salt and hypertension.

We consume too much salt, eating~9g per day instead of the recommended 6g. Our recent research identifies gene pathways in the brain that drive us to eat salt; activation of these pathways also increases blood pressure. This research was published in Circulation and a Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Nephrology.


Information exchange within the kidney.

Our paper in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reports exchange of information between kidney tubule cells by release and uptake of extracellular vesicles containing RNA and protein. This exchange is regulated by hormones and can change the physiological responses of the recipient cell. Such research opens new avenues for physiological research and has potential to deliver targeted therapeutics to injured renal tubules. This work was also highlighted in Nature Nephrology.

The small non-coding miRNA, miR-214, is a novel mediator of renal fibrosis

Previously we have demonstrated that small non-coding miRNA are dysregulated in renal disease.  Our paper in the American Society of Nephrology (PMID:24158985) demonstrated that in particular miR-214-3p is implicitly involved in renal fibrosis and blockade of this miRNA either genetically or pharmacologically resulted in a substantial reduction of renal fibrosis >86% in a preclinical model of renal fibrosis.  This work was recognised as a research highlight by the journal, is a F1000 recommended article and included in the leading reviews on the topic including Nature Reviews Nephrology - MicroRNAs in kidney physiology and disease. (PMID:25385286)