The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has pledged its support to research being carried out by Associate Professor, Kevin Bennet of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University to evolve effective ways for early detection of onset of kidney disease.
The $400,000 grant will be used to support the research team’s work focused on detecting a prevalent form of kidney disease called nephritis by means of the magnetic nanoparticles they have engineered.
Conventional methods of disease detection involve the painful process of a biopsy which is also prone to errors. Bennet’s team is working on a technique employing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The engineered nanoparticles are introduced into the body where they get attached to the kidney part that is attached with the nephron and known as glomerulus. An MRI scan of a kidney with attached nanoparticles would create a noticeable warping of the image that facilitates the extraction of information about the nephron. The size, location and behavioral changes in the nephron can be determined from the distortion.
Another significant application of the technology is to determine the risk of cardiovascular disease by determining the number of nephrons. The non-invasive imaging technique eliminates the painful procedure of collecting body tissues. The technique also offers scope for analyzing the impact of diabetes on the kidneys by the ability of the kidney to accept the nanoparticles and the strain this exerts on the kidneys.
The research team is currently gearing up for launching clinical trials. The researchers will begin to work with donor kidneys of humans.