What happens to my samples?

So, you are part of NURTuRE or thinking about being involved. You have seen your nurse, answered loads of questions, agreed to share your medical information, had your blood taken and given a sample of your urine.
Have you wondered what happens next – how your samples and information help us to find ways to understand or treat kidney disease?
Check out our little video and get a snapshot of what goes on and where.

Video animation developed with Prawnimation.


A few questions you might still have:

Why do you need to divide everything up into so many little samples?

Your samples are really important to us so we need to divide them up into smaller batches so we can find out as much as possible from them. First, we put some of your samples in a centrifuge machine which spins at high speed and pushes the cells to the bottom of the tube and leaves the remaining liquid (plasma and serum) at the top of the tube. The liquid part is then divided into many smaller amounts (termed “aliquots”), which are labelled with a barcode and frozen at an extremely low temperature (-80°C). These are stored are the central UK Biocentre facility at Milton Keynes where they specialise in safely storing human samples.

Using a barcode, not your name, keeps your patient information safe and helps us locate and track your samples on their journey to the researchers. Having these smaller aliquots also means we can easily access your sample without needing to defrost the whole lot – this is essential for when we need just a small amount to repeat a test or do a new experiment.

What sort of tests are you carrying out?

Some of your samples go to a university laboratory in Geneva, where we look for molecules such as proteins in the blood we might be able to use to spot the presence of kidney disease earlier on or predict how the disease might progress. We may also extract the DNA from some of your blood in order to take a look at the genetic sequence. By looking at everyone’s DNA in this way, we can look for any changes common in those with kidney disease in the hope of figuring out if there are certain genes responsible.



How might my samples help kidney patients now and in the future?

UK and international researchers can ask to use some of the samples in their own research. An independent committee of kidney and biobanking experts and patient representatives make sure the research is of the highest scientific quality and focussed on finding ways to understand or treat kidney disease. The results of their studies will be added to the NURTuRE database to help speed up the progress of research and may eventually reveal new ways to prevent or slow down the progression of kidney failure.

I’ve had a kidney biopsy and gave permission for you to use some of the tissue for the NURTuRE study. How is it being used?

Your biopsy tissue will already be preserved in a block of wax so it can be kept indefinitely. This block is sent to the University of Birmingham where a microtome cuts it into extremely thin slices which are scooped up onto a glass microscope slide. A dye is added which stains the cells and tissue in different ways. The slides are photographed and the information they reveal, combined with everything else we have found out, will help answer those important questions about kidney disease.