Australian-led study uncovers new virus underpinning kidney disease

Centenary Institute


A multi-disciplinary group of scientists from the Centenary Institute in Sydney, in collaboration with researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, have serendipitously discovered a brand-new virus strain, which could change the way chronic and childhood kidney diseases are approached and treated.

The study, published in the highly-prestigious scientific journal Cell, began after researchers at the Centenary Institute noticed some immune-compromised laboratory mice were dying in middle-age, much earlier that their expected lifespan. Further investigation revealed the mice were succumbing to kidney failure.

Using leading-edge DNA sequencing technologies, the scientists were able to pinpoint the cause as an entirely new parvovirus. Parvoviruses are extremely small viruses that are generally benign, except in immune-compromised individuals.

“This virus is very widespread and has been affecting laboratory mice for 40 years or more, and we have good reason to suspect that both wild and laboratory mice unwittingly harbour it in their colonies. It has only been the advent of new DNA sequencing technologies that we have been able to find it,” says lead author and Head of Centenary’s Skin Imaging and Inflammation Laboratory, Dr Ben Roediger.

See the full media release.

Read ‘An atypical parvovirus drives chronic tubulointerstitial nephropathy and kidney fibrosis’ in the scientific journal Cell.

Listen to the story on ABC Radio National’s program The World Today.

Image: Unaffected kidney tubules (pink), virus-infected kidney tubules (green) and associated ‘scarring’ of the surrounding tissue (red and yellow).

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