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Sanford Research scientist targeting kidney disease bolstered by $1.9M grant

Indra Chandrasekar works in her Sanford Research Lab
Sanford Research
Indra Chandrasekar works in her Sanford Research Lab

The National Institutes of Health have granted nearly two-million dollars to a Sanford Health-affiliated researcher. This funding will support research aiming to reduce kidney disease development.

Indra Chandrasekar, assistant scientist at Sanford Research, investigates the role of molecular motor proteins in cell pathways, and their contribution to kidney disease.

Chandrasekar said the focus is a specific family of genes.

“We are studying this group of genes called non-muscle myosin II," Chandrasekar said.
"It’s a big super-family of genes, there are three genes linked to mammalian systems – like most mammals have three of these genes expressed – MYH9, MYH10, and MYH14. MYH9 has been linked to kidney disease for over twenty-five years.”

The CDC cites kidney disease is the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Chandrasekar’s research aims to reduce that number.

She said her research has already uncovered genetic clues.

“What we noticed in our model - mouse model - that we got rid of this gene, that protein that regulates sodium reabsorption in one cell type in this region doesn’t function right, therefore these mice get sick," Chandrasekar said. "They get progressive kidney disease.”

Chandrasekar reminds South Dakotans to take care of their own kidneys.

“I see a lot of people are used to drinking a lot of soda in South Dakota, so I would say in between those sodas please take care of your kidney health and drink enough water," Chandrasekar said. "People work outside a lot, you know we have a lot of farmers, you have to make sure you are hydrated.”

The Chandrasekar Lab at Sanford Research has been studying these specific genes and their link to kidney disease for the past seven years.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture