(Vienna, 17 July 2019) The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) has awarded Nicolas Kozakowski from MedUni Vienna's Department of Pathology an Erwin Schrödinger international scholarship entitled "MAC-Inhibition in Heymann Nephritis".
This will enable Nicolas Kozakowski to take up the invitation of the prestigious French research institute INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale), to work in Hôpital Tenon in Paris under the direction of Pierre Ronco and Hanna Debiec, two internationally renowned basic and clinical researchers , to investigate the underlying mechanisms, development and treatment of membranous glomerulonephritis (an autoimmune disease of the renal corpuscles).
In order to clarify its pathophysiology, he will work on a preclinical model of this disease established by the working group and make a comprehensive analysis of the complement system and its medicinal inhibition.
Results from analysis of this model, which were originally first described in Vienna by the former Head of MedUni Vienna's Department of Pathology, Dontscho Kerjaschki, showed that activation of the complement system is a central mediator in the onset and progression of this disease. Development of the complement membrane attack complex (MAC) damages the podocytes (cells of the filtration membrane in the renal corpuscles), thus producing one of the main symptoms of the disease, high protein loss in the urine.
In the later stages of the disease, around one third of patients need renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis or a kidney transplant, although, even then, the disease can recur in the transplanted organ.
In any case, treatment currently requires the use of immunosuppressants, which often cause side-effects and are not always successful.
The most recent advances in the development of targeted treatments for primary diseases of the complement system have led to the development of potent complement inhibitors. Since complement-mediated damage plays a major role in membranous glomerulonephritis, complement inhibition could provide a therapeutic alternative for patients.
Nicolas Kozakowski will test this new, innovative treatment in this project, at the same time expanding his technical expertise and strengthening the scientific links between the French research Institute and MedUni Vienna.
About Nicolas Kozakowski
Nicolas Kozakowski studied human medicine at the Faculté de Médecine Xavier Bichat Paris VII. He works as a consultant in MedUni Vienna's Department of Pathology and is a member of the Nephropathology Working Group (with H. Regele, R. Kain, J. Kläger and M. Nackenhorst). His scientific interest lies in renal pathology with the emphasis on transplantation pathology. He has already published several papers in leading journals about the pathology of kidney transplant rejection, some of them in collaboration with colleagues from the Division of Nephrology and Dialysis within the Department of Medicine III of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital.