National Children's Research Centre

VUR research team land valuable Health Research Board award for NCRC

November 3, 2014

A team of researchers from NCRC and OLCHC have been awarded a prestigious and valuable grant by the Health Research Board, to study the genetic basis of kidney damage in children.  The team, led by Professor David Barton and Professor Prem Puri, have for many years been looking for genes that cause a condition called vesicoureteric reflux (VUR), which causes kidney damage in children.

Professor Prem Puri

VUR  is the backflow of urine from the bladder towards the kidneys. It is a common disorder in children, but is often not diagnosed because it may have no symptoms. However, it can be associated with kidney damage, and is a major cause of high blood pressure and of kidney failure in children. It can be treated by endoscopic surgery, and this usually stops the urine backflow from happening, but sadly it often does not prevent kidney failure from developing, so we need to understand why this is. VUR runs in families, and more than 250 Irish families have volunteered to help the team to find the causes by donating blood samples for DNA studies.

Professor David Barton

New technologies for reading DNA sequences are making a big difference to the rate at which we can find answers to questions like these. The aim is that eventually we shall be able to predict which children will grow out of their VUR without any trouble, and which ones are at risk of kidney damage, and to discover how to prevent kidney damage and high blood pressure from developing. This new award, valued at €301,664 will support lead researcher Dr John Darlow for three more years of work in the Genetics Laboratories in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital.

Dr John Darlow