Building a Foundation for Kidney Disease Diagnosis

EUROIMMUN drew on basic research conducted at Boston University to develop Immunofluorescent (IFFT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibody tests that are highly predictive for a common autoimmune kidney disease that can lead to kidney failure.


Primary (or idiopathic) Membranous Nephropathy (MN) is an antibody-mediated kidney disease that causes protein leakage into the urine and body swelling. It may also impair kidney function and result in kidney failure with major morbidity and mortality. Until recently, kidney biopsy was the only way to diagnose MN and distinguish primary MN from other causes such as lupus, cancer and hepatitis-associated MN. Other than measuring protein in the urine there was also no way to know if treatment was effective.


David Salant and Laurence Beck, both faculty at the BU School of Medicine, discovered the major target antigen for primary MN, phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R), and showed that serum anti-PLA2R antibodies are highly specific for primary MN. Autoantibodies to PLA2R can act as a biomarker for the diagnosis of primary MN and for monitoring the response treatment. They are the basis of EUROIMMUN’s IFFT and ELISA diagnostic tests.


Drs. Salant and Beck collaborate to conduct basic science research on the pathogenesis of membranous nephropathy in the Renal Section of Boston Medical Center on the Boston University Medical Campus.


The diagnostic test can help assess therapy success and disease progression, predict clinical remission or relapse, and estimate risk of the disease after kidney transplantation. Patients with kidney disease now have access to an effective test to help further understand their disease state and treatment options.