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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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The main function of iron in the body is to form haemoglobin in red cells to carry oxygen to all the organs and tissues of the body. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that iron has other important functions in the body, particularly in relation to how the heart and muscles function. A lack of this important mineral, even in the absence of anaemia, may make it harder to exercise, carry out simple daily tasks, and lead to severe fatigue in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

About the study

Kidney Research UK is supporting a three-year study which started in Spring 2019. It will look at the effects of giving intravenous (IV) iron supplementation to people with stages 3-4 CKD who are iron deficient (but not yet anaemic or on dialysis) combined with an exercise programme, to see if it helps improve their exercise and physical ability, as well as improve how the muscles function.

The study involves 70 patients from seven renal units across the UK - King's College Hospital, the Royal London, Guy’s and St George’s Hospitals in London and Epsom and St Helier, Leicester and Salford.

Who is involved?

The study is led by a team at King's College Hospital, London including Dr Sharlene Greenwood, consultant physiotherapist in renal and exercise rehabilitation, Dr Kate Bramham, clinical lecturer and consultant nephrologist, and Dr Obi Okonko, consultant cardiologist. Sharlene co-chairs the Exercise and Lifestyle Clinical Study Group which is part of the UK Kidney Research Consortium and she is the President of the British Renal Society.

The research team at Leicester, led by Professor Alice Smith, have and will continue to play a vital role in the development and implementation of this important study.

Sharlene says:

"We are delighted to have started this really important trial which addresses a problem that really matters for our patients. Some of the patients in this exploratory trial will be given iron and some will be given a placebo. All patients will undertake an eight week exercise programme. By comparing the results, we hope to find out whether giving iron to patients who are not anaemic, but have low iron levels, can improve their ability to exercise, their muscle metabolism, physical function, and fatigue levels. If successful, this could pave the way for a much larger clinical trial."

Kidney Research UK facilitated this academic-industry collaboration and is managing the research funding for the study which is supported by an unrestricted grant of £1.37 million from Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma Ltd.

It is not about product development nor is it related to any commercial activities.

Reviewed June 2019

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