First global patient for kidney study recruited in Leicester

A patient from Birmingham is the first person to be recruited into a new worldwide study to test new treatments for a potentially life-threatening kidney condition called IgA nephropathy. The research team responsible for this fantastic achievement is based in the John Walls Renal Unit at Leicester General Hospital. 

IgA nephropathy is an autoimmune disease that affects the fine filters of the kidneys. In healthy kidneys, these filters act like a sieve to clean the blood and enable the body to expel waste products it doesn’t need in the urine. However, in people with IgA nephropathy, a common antibody in the blood called IgA that helps us fight infection is for some reason deposited in the kidneys. This produces inflammation and scarring in the filters, which means they do not function at the same levels as would be expected in a healthy person.

The new study is looking at the effectiveness and safety of a drug called LNP023, which blocks a process in the body that is known to cause inflammation and organ damage in people with autoimmune diseases such as IgA nephropathy.

The first worldwide participant is John Watts (55) from Knowle, near Solihull in Birmingham. He was recruited on 6 February 2018. 

Professor Jonathan Barratt, honorary nephrology consultant at Leicester’s Hospitals and Mayer Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Leicester, is leading the study. He said: “We are delighted to have recruited the first patient into this important global study in Leicester. John is very knowledgeable about his condition and this is his third clinical trial with us. He’s like part of the team. 

“By leading this study we hope to establish whether the new drug reduces kidney inflammation and improves kidney function in patients with IgA nephropathy. We should also gain insights into what the correct dosage of the drug should be, how safe it is and how well patients tolerate it because we are trialling the drug at different doses, and indeed by using a placebo which contains none of the drug as a comparison.”

Professor Jonathan Barratt leads the Mayer IgA Nephropathy Laboratories at the University of Leicester. In 2017, the University of Leicester received a gift of £2.7 million from philanthropist Jimmy Mayer to support his research group in further understanding the mechanisms that lead to the development and progression of IgA Nephropathy and to establish the world’s first international registry of IgA Nephropathy patients.