World Kidney Day: University of Leicester receives million-pound donation to enhance kidney research

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Jimmy Mayer (L) and son David (Credit: University of Leicester)

Research by the University of Leicester (Leicester, UK) into chronic kidney disease has received a major boost on World Kidney Day (10 March 2022) following a £1 million donation from long-term supporter and kidney health advocate Jimmy Mayer.

This vital funding will enable Leicester’s leading research experts to continue their pioneering work into IgA nephropathy—a kidney disease for which there is currently no cure and that affects young adults aged 20 to 30—a press release from the university states.

Researchers will use this donation to continue to support a core team of scientists dedicated to investigating IgA nephropathy, invest in specialist equipment—including acquiring a state-of-the-art system to investigate the genes that are switched on and off in the kidneys in IgA nephropathy—and to collaborate further with pharmaceutical companies in the creation of new drugs to treat the disease.

Mayer has been a long-standing supporter of Leicester’s IgA nephropathy research, including the establishment of the Mayer IgA Nephropathy Laboratory and growing the talented team of investigators, and has now invested more than £4 million in philanthropic giving to advance knowledge and support the development of new treatments and therapies.

“My son was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy in 2012 and, as any father would, I started to research to better understand this condition,” Mayer said. “I wanted to know what could be done and how I could modestly contribute to these efforts. Through my investigation, I became acutely aware of the broader implication of kidney disease in our society. I also came across the great work of the fabulous team at Leicester. I hopped on a train for a visit and have been their number one fan ever since. It is my sincere hope that with these efforts they can make significant progress towards a more complete understanding of IgA nephropathy, improved treatment options and perhaps even a cure.”

Already, the team at Leicester has made substantial breakthroughs into understanding the disease, including:

  • The discovery of the key abnormality of the IgA molecule that causes IgA nephropathy and its genetic basis
  • Delivering the first genetic study to identify key risk genes for IgA nephropathy
  • Driving the development of the international scoring system for IgA nephropathy kidney biopsies
  • Leading the group that produced the international guidelines on how to treat IgA nephropathy
  • Currently working with more than 25 life sciences industry partners on new approaches to treat IgA nephropathy.

Jonathan Barratt leads the Renal Research Group within the College of Life Sciences and is an honorary consultant nephrologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (Leicester, UK).

“We are at an exciting time in the history of IgA nephropathy and within touching distance of finally being able to provide safe and effective treatments for patients with this devastating kidney disease,” Barratt added. “Jimmy and David’s support for our research has been instrumental in moving our understanding of IgA nephropathy forwards and has allowed us to access cutting-edge technologies to study this important cause of kidney failure. We hope with continued support we will be able to once and for all remove the spectre of kidney failure that hangs over the lives of young people living with IgA nephropathy.”

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