Genetic basis of reflux nephropathy-related hypertension and renal failure in children

Vesicoureteric reflux (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. In some children, it stops happening as they grow, and they suffer no ill effects. However, it can be associated with kidney damage, and is a major cause of high blood pressure and of kidney failure in children. It is more common in children who have repeated urine infections, and that is when it is usually detected. 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 us to find the causes by donating blood samples so that we can study their DNA. The inheritance of VUR is proving to be very complicated, and we are amongst a number of laboratories in different countries working on the problem. New technologies for testing DNA for common variations, and for reading DNA sequences to find new variations, are starting to make a big difference to the rate at which we can find answers, but there is still a lot more to do to find which variations cause VUR, and then we still have to find out how they cause it. 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.

Award Date
20 June 2014
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor David Barton
Host Institution
The Children's Medical and Research Foundation
Health Research Awards