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Combating childhood kidney disease using mice

E. coli toxin causes haemolytic uraemic syndrome

UK scientists have made progress in understanding a kidney disorder in children through a study using genetically altered mice.

The disorder, haemolytic uraemic syndrome (STEC-HUS), is caused by a toxin, called Shiga, which affects specific kidney cells, called podocytes, responsible for blood filtration.

The toxin comes from harmful E.coli bacteria, present in contaminated food and water, which can lead to blood clots and long-term kidney malfunction.

The team, at the University of Bristol, used genetically altered mice, with the toxin in their kidney cells, and showed that Eculizumab, an existing blood disorder medication, could effectively minimise the effects of the toxin if used at an early stage of detection of the disease.

Richard Coward, the main author of the Bristol study, in collaboration with an international team, reflected: “As a children's kidney doctor one of the most difficult and devastating diseases we treat is STEC-HUS. We have now discovered that the podocyte is a key target cell of Shiga...”

The next steps include clinical trials in children suffering from the kidney disorder. The original research article was published in Med.

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