Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Genes Linked to Kidney Disease Identified

It's been described as break-though research. And it could lead to new treatments in the future.

An international team, including scientists from Edinburgh University (the place I got my Ph.D from), have found 13 new genes that influence renal function, and another seven that affect the production and secretion of creatinine.

Creatinine has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of kidney function. If the kidney function is impaired, the creatinine level in the blood rises due to poor removal from the body by the kidneys. An abnormal high level is a warning of the possible impending failure of the kidneys.

Although chronic kidney disease is linked to age, and other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, it has been known that there is a genetic component as well.

Two research articles were published on different aspects of the work. The first study involved 67,093 individuals of European ancestry, and collaborative work by 95 scientists all over the world. The second study involved another a further 23,000 individuals.

Dr Jim Wilson, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh who worked on the study, said, "This work could revolutionize the treatment of kidney disease in the future – but this will take some time."

Obviously we shouldn't expect to hear of new treatments in the immediate future, but fundamental research such as this can't fail to lead to a better understanding of how the kidneys function and how they begin to fail.

See the BBC News Service for a longer report.
Or read the first article abstract at Nature and a second article's abstract, also at Nature