University of Nottingham - Dr Susan Francis
Dr Francis and her team have developed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as an alternative to animal techniques to study both the structure and function of healthy and diseased kidneys. Changes in kidney blood oxygenation and blood flow in healthy subjects and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients will be measured using MRI and the findings will be compared with clinical measurements (blood samples and biopsies). Dr Francis aims to investigate whether MRI could be a reliable diagnostic tool for CKD.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged in function and/or structure, and cannot filter blood as well as undamaged organs. Kidney damage can occur from a physical injury or conditions such as diabetes, and can cause wastes to accumulate in the body, ultimately leading to additional health problems. People with CKD additionally have an increased risk of developing heart disease or a stroke.

Currently, surgical manipulations are widely used to model human disease by reproducing the injury that causes renal disease.  Animals are commonly used and the types of experiments conducted in animals are highly invasive and painful. In any given year, up to 2600 mice, 720 rats and 50 pigs are requested for these studies. 

In Nottingham, Dr Francis and her team have developed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as an alternative to animal techniques to study both the structure and function of the kidney. Changes in kidney blood oxygenation and blood flow will be induced in healthy subjects to mimic the changes found in CKD.  The same techniques will then be applied to CKD patients and the findings will be compared with clinical measures of kidney function from blood samples and biopsy.  Dr Francis aims to investigate whether MRI could be a reliable diagnostic tool for CKD.