Funding: Dr. Lakshman Gunaratnam awarded two Kidney Foundation grants

Dr. Lakshman Gunaratnam’s research focused on the mitigation of the impact of kidney trauma cumulatively received $150,000 in funding from The Kidney Foundation of Canada for two separate research initiatives.

With support from the Kidney Health Research Grant, he will investigate the determinants of renal failure in cases of acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition typically incurred by hospitalized patients due to decreased blood flow or medication toxicity.

His research is focused on the Kidney Injury Molecule-1, which while crucial to healing the kidney after injury, can also sometimes cause permanent scarring that leads to chronic kidney disease and potentially renal failure.

“We want to improve our understanding of the genes and other factors which determine if the kidney heals or scars after AKI,” he explained. “We hope to potentially find effective therapeutic strategies to prevent scarring and promote healing of the injured kidney.”

Through the Kidney Foundation’s Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, he was awarded funding for research into a potential therapeutic agent he has discovered that could improve outcomes for kidney transplants.

When administered immediately after transplantation, the agent —AIM— can help the kidney ‘sop up’ dying cells to prevent further damage to the traumatized organ and decrease chances of organ rejection. The current research will look into whether the agent could also help prolong the lifespan of transplanted kidneys.

A major limitation of transplantation is the limited lifespan of the organs when transplanted into the host,” said Dr. Gunaratnam, who is also the Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation at the London Health Sciences Centre.

AIM may become revolutionary in making life-saving kidney transplants last longer.”