It is now recognized that renal disease is a global public health problem, with the incidence of end stage renal disease (ESRD) rising annually.
Current treatment options for ESRD are dialysis or renal transplantation, which apart from their significant drawbacks in terms of increased morbidity and mortality, are also placing an increasing economic burden on society. The development of interventions aimed at preventing ESRD, including drug- and cellular-based therapies, is made difficult by the lack of availability of primary human renal cells for in vitro drug testing, and by our inability to accurately assess the effectiveness of cellular-based therapies in appropriate animal models.
However, due to recent advances in the fields of stem cell science, tissue engineering and bioelectronics, we have unprecedented opportunities to generate the following tools that will facilitate important breakthroughs in renal medicine: (1) human kidney-derived stem/progenitor cells (KSPCs) for drug discovery and cellular therapy; (2) biomaterials for regulating the differentiation of the KSPCs in vitro for use in drug development programmes; (3) electronic devices capable of measuring renal function, enabling the effect of stem cell-based therapies to be properly evaluated.
The overarching goal of the NephroTools ITN is to provide state-of-the-art multidisciplinary training to a cohort of 15 young researchers in order to equip them with the skills required to make a significant impact in renal medicine.