Supramolecular biomaterials in kidney regeneration and replacement strategies


The kidney is the primary organ involved in the filtration and excretion of waste, and toxic compounds from the blood. The nephron is the kidney’s functional component which is damaged or impaired in most renal diseases. In the Dutch population around 11% is suffering of mild to severe renal disease, with an increasing prevalence as the population ages.

As of yet there are only two treatment options for end stage kidney disease; dialysis, and kidney transplantation. Both options are far from ideal. Dialysis requires frequent visits to the clinic, and is incapable of clearing protein bound uremic toxins. Organ transplantation is limited by donor shortage, acute rejection, and a lifelong need for immunosuppressive therapy. Therefore, improvements are needed in kidney regeneration and replacement strategies.

In our previous research we have shown that supramolecular biomaterials can be created, mimicking the renal basement membrane. It was shown that these biomaterials are able to control in-vitro functioning of renal epithelial cells. Important in the further development of functional biomaterials, is their interaction with cells via bioactive functionalities, such as peptides. In the current research we aim at resolving the interactions of the cell with the bioactive supramolecular biomaterial at a microscopic and molecular level. Combination of these insights with established renal cell function assays is proposed to gain fundamental insights in renal cell behavior on supramolecular surfaces. This is proposed to lead to the development of materials that can be applied to ameliorate dialysis and possibly to in-situ regenerate renal tissue.


Researchers: R.C. (Ronald) van Gaal.
Supervisor: P.Y.W. (Patricia) Dankers.

Funded by European Research Council