As it became clear that the novel coronavirus was particular dangerous for diabetics and attacked the kidneys, NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies Faculty Member Dr. Matthias Kretzler pivoted to apply his groundbreaking research on kidney disease to fight COVID-19.
Dr. Kretzler is the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Nephrology and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics and member of the U-M Center for RNA Biomedicine.
“Coronaviruses need specific keys, cellular receptors, to infect cells in the human
body,” wrote Elisabeth Paymal of the U-M Center for RNA Biomedicine. In the past couple of months, researchers have seen how the novel coronavirus uses these cell receptors to infect certain parts of the body, including the lung, gut, heart and kidneys. Dr. Kretzler and his team are focused on learning how these cell receptors, particularly in the kidney, are regulated with a two-pronged approach. First, in existing data, the team will look at how receptors are switched on and off in kidney development and kidney diseases. In parallel, a multi-disciplinary team will study patients with acute kidney injury caused by COVID-19, and using a protocol developed just last year, gain insight into how the virus damages the kidney.