The number of people suffering from kidney related disorders often termed as Renal Disorders is on rise in the world. Diseases like diabetes and other congenital abnormalities occur very frequently and have played a crucial role in the development of renal diseases. The only options available to the patients for the treatment is dialysis and kidney transplant. And both these treatments have proved to be insufficient and expensive, with a higher mortality rate than in most cancers.
It is high time to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities to treat renal diseases and for that, we require detailed knowledge of the mechanisms regulating kidney development. A new research conducted at the University of Helsinki identified MAPK pathway as a key regulator of the final nephron number in a mature kidney.
The MAPK pathway (also known as the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway) is a chain of proteins in the cell that communicates a signal from a receptor present on the surface of the cell to the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. MAPK pathway mediates extracellular growth factor stimuli to the cell interior. Its function is not limited to the cell’s nucleus, where it controls DNA by binding to target regions, but it is also active in the cytosol, where it regulates activities of many different proteins. In many cancers, a defect in the MAPK pathway has resulted in an uncontrolled growth of the cells. And thus MAPK pathway has been a highly researched for the treatment of cancer.
A study now published in Stem Cell Reports shows that MAPK activity is not only required for the normal proliferation and differentiation of nephron progenitors, but it also mediates crucial nephron progenitor interactions with the surrounding environment.
“Our results reveal that MAPK activity participates in modulating cellular adhesion, which is constantly required in developing systems to enable cellular motility and morphogenesis,” explains the principal investigator Satu Kuure from the University of Helsinki, Finland.
MAPK pathway modulators have been used for a long time in the treatment of cancer. These modulators, along with the recently published results bring hope in the scientific community about developing new stem cell-based regenerative therapies as novel treatments for patients suffering from renal diseases. “Use of MAPK modulators allows efficient and precise activation as well as inactivation of the pathway. Timely utilization of this in patient-derived organoid differentiation may significantly improve the outcome,” foresees Kuure.