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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Scientific understanding around the importance of the body's internal clock has progressed in leaps and bound in recent years, with three US scientists winning the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for their research in this area, and other research also being published. The biological clock theme is also being explored in another study recently funded by Kidney Research UK.

Dr Sara Namvar is a research associate working at the University of Manchester who has been investigating possible ways to prevent peritoneal fibrosis. As part of this study she is looking into how the circadian clock within individual cells could affect treatment in kidney patients.

Patricia Gooden and Sara Namvar

Patricia Gooden and Sara Namvar

She said: “Some kidney patients use peritoneal dialysis, which involves feeding dialysis liquids into the abdomen to clean the blood. This is generally done during the day or overnight.”

“Although effective, this treatment eventually damages lining cells of the abdomen called mesothelial cells and causes hardening (fibrosis), so treatment has to stop.

“We have been growing these cells in dishes and have identified genes that appear to be really important in regulating the development of peritoneal fibrosis. We’ve also discovered these cells may contain a functioning biological clock.

“All living creatures have biological clocks present in their brain and also in many other tissues and organs. Clock genes have been shown to be important in many other conditions including cancer, asthma and diabetes, so this suggests they must be in mesothelial cells for a reason.

“I hope to continue this work and gain a greater understanding of these clock genes. If, for example, we find they make the lining cell or entire peritoneum more susceptible to fibrosis at certain times of the day or night, we may be able to counter this by ensuring patients have dialysis at the best possible times.”

We will keep you posted on how this research develops.

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