Diabetic kidney disease is now the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease in Western countries, requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant. Over half a million Australians are predicted to develop diabetic kidney disease by 2025.
Although it is difficult to identify which patients with diabetes will develop progressive kidney disease and there is currently no preventative treatment, research carried out by St Vincent’s Endocrinology Department is making some some exciting progress.
Thanks to funding from the Shepherd Foundation, Ethel Herman Charitable Trust and Isobel Hill Brown Charitable Trust, Professor Richard MacIsaac, Director of Endocrinology and Diabetes, is leading a team investigating this important issue.
The team studied the activity of naturally occurring molecule sTNFR1, also known as a biomarker, produced as a result of inflammation, as well as uric acid, produced from the natural breakdown of food and cells in the body.
In a world first, the team has demonstrated that both uric acid and early increases in sTNFR1 can be associated with deterioration in kidney function.
‘Levels of sTNFR1 were measured in both patients with stable kidney function and patients whose kidney function was declining,’ Prof MacIsaac says. ‘Uric acid rates were studied alongside a decline in kidney function and death related to kidney disease.’
‘We still need to rule out other potential factors in the deterioration of kidneys before this research progresses towards use in everyday medicine, however identifying potential indicators of progressive kidney disease and starting treatment at an earlier stage has the potential to help tens of thousands of people worldwide.’
We are very grateful to the Shepherd Foundation, Ethel Herman Charitable Trust and Isobel Hill Brown Charitable Trust for their support for this project.