kidney disease

A five year research project is setting out to examine the DNA of 20,000 people with diabetes in order to learn more about genetic factors that could contribute to diabetic kidney disease.

The research, from Queen’s University, Belfast, is hoping to identify the genetic risks that make some people with diabetes more at risk of kidney failure than others.

This knowledge could lead to more personalized treatment, which in turn could help to improve their long-term health more effectively than diabetes treatment currently can.

In 2011, diabetes was listed as the primary cause of kidney failure, with 44 percent of kidney failure coming from cases of diabetes, with 49,677 people of all ages began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes, according to the CDC. It shows the prevalence and overall issue that is caused by unhealthy kidneys.

The research is part the new US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme, which is pulling together the knowledge and expertise of scientists from Queen’s University, Belfast, University College Dublin, the Broad Institute, Boston, and the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Diabetic kidney disease is not only a complication which can significantly affect a person’s life, but is also the most common form of end-stage kidney failure across the world. Unfortunately it often goes undetected until an advanced stage. By knowing which people may be at a higher genetic risk of the complication, it is possible that it can be diagnosed earlier on, or prevented.

According to professor Peter Maxwell from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University, the research team will look at DNA of 20,000 participants. “Firstly, we will explore variations in DNA to discover why some people with diabetes are at higher risk of kidney failure compared with others who seem to be protected from developing this complication.

“Secondly, we hope to better understand how having a poor control of diabetes – high blood sugars over a long period of time – can lead to the re-programming of DNA and an increased risk of kidney failure.

“Thirdly, we aim to develop new tests that could be used to screen people with diabetes to assess their risk of developing kidney complications and help select the best preventative treatment.”