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New international consortium formed to speed up drug discovery in kidney diseases

A new international consortium, including academic institutions such as the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge and drugmaker Evotec, has been established to enhance the discovery of drugs to treat kidney diseases.

The NEPLEX (nephron on a chip with cellular and extracellular matrix complexity) consortium will aggregate crucial technologies to develop and build a novel drug discovery device called Nephron-on-a-Chip.

The consortium intends to develop a functional nephron on a chip device that reflects both the filtration area and the resorption area of a human kidney.

Nephron is the basic structural and functional unit of the kidney. The functional nephrons will be based on fully characterised human cell lines and iPSC-derived human cells.

It will incorporate and advanced microfluidics technology created at the University of Cambridge with iPSC technology and kidney disease from the University of Bristol, the Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo and Evotec.

University of Bristol’s professor Moin Saleem and his group will provide human kidney cell lines focusing on the resorption unit, while Dr Yan Yan Shery Huan and her lab from the University of Cambridge will develop the glomerular part of the chip.

Mario Negri Institute’s Christodoulos Xinaris and his colleagues will offer human iPSC lines and expertise required for the device.

Evotec will provide advanced iPSC and kidney disease platforms. The device will enable testing of drug candidates in a fully human nephron a already in the pre-clinic, helping to improve and enhance drug discovery in the field of kidney diseases.

Evotec chief scientific officer Cord Dohrmann said: "We are very pleased to have teamed up with three leading academic institutions in such exciting area of medicine.”

Image: A new consortium will accelerate the discovery of novel drugs to treat kidney diseases. Photo: courtesy of University of Bristol.