Ming Receives Grant to Study Therapy for Renal Fibrosis
Xin Ming, PhD, a research assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has received an NC TraC$50K Pilot Grant from the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute to support his research on using targeted siRNA therapy to treat renal fibrosis.
The one-year grant will provide $50,000 to support Ming’s study of a therapy targeting αvβ6 integrin receptors that play a crucial role in fibrogenesis, the formation of scar tissues in an organ. Ming, a faculty member in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, will use this study to generate preliminary data to apply for an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health.
When fibrosis occurs in renal tubules, αvβ6 integrin receptors are induced and transported to the cell surface, worsening the disease. Ming will attach anti-integrin siRNA and the integrin ligand to a protein carrier. These nanoparticles will bind to the integrin at sites of renal fibrosis, delivering the siRNA to the kidney cells to bring the integrin level back to normal and thereby treat fibrosis.
Ming's research could help advance targeted therapeutics for kidney diseases and provide approaches to antifibrotic strategies for diseases in other organs.
“This project is highly innovative in that it will be the first targeted RNAi strategy for treating kidney diseases,” he says. “It will combine the strengths of highly specific siRNAs and disease-targeted delivery systems to address the challenge of low specificity confronting current antifibrotic therapeutics.”
There is increasing demand for effective therapies for chronic kidney diseases as these diseases have become a major source of morbidity and mortality, and there are currently no approved therapies aimed at treating fibrosis, Ming says.
“Treatment for chronic kidney diseases have been focused on end-stage renal disease, when renal failure has already developed, making dialysis or kidney transplant necessary,” he says. “This produces a serious economic burden for health-care systems and generates enormous demands for treatments at the early stages.”