Kidney Disease Research Round-Up: March 2018

Today is World Kidney Day. Today and all month (March is National Kidney Month, too), nonprofits and patient advocates will highlight the need for better treatments for and more research around kidney disease, which affects an estimated 31 million people in the United States.

In honor of World Kidney Day we've gathered some of the latest research into kidney disease, from findings that will help power future discoveries to studies that shine light on how to better care for those living with kidney disease today.

Scientists develop an online “kidney atlas”

Thanks to researchers at the University of Southern California, stem cell scientists now have access to a free online “kidney atlas.” It includes information on molecular, cellular, and genetic similarities and differences in the ways that human and mouse kidneys are formed. Stem cell researchers and computer scientists worked together to gather the information, which also includes the first cellular and molecular characterization of how the human kidney develops.

"Our research bridges a critical gap between animal models and human applications,"Andrew McMahon, study senior author, said in a statement. “The data we collected and analyzed creates a knowledge base that will accelerate stem cell-based technologies to produce mini-kidneys that accurately represent human kidneys for biomedical screening and replacement therapies.”

Stem cell researchers can now search the open-source tool as they work to develop better treatments for kidney disease.

Implanted defibrillators may cause more harm than good for kidney disease patients

In chronic kidney disease, many patients develop heart failure and have a heart defibrillator implanted.

Unfortunately, recent research has found that implanted defibrillators may not improve health in patients with chronic kidney disease. Those with implanted defibrillators were more likely to be hospitalized, and the study found essentially no difference in death rates between those with and without them for patients with kidney disease and heart failure.

Placing a defibrillator can be expensive and cause other complications, so it's important for clinicians to consider the risks when prescribing them to kidney disease patients, the study authors said.

Learning about kidney disease from cats and bears?

Vampire bats, cats, and bears may have a surprising amount to teach scientists about kidney disease, according to researchers in the area of biomimetics.

Biomimetics is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature used for the purpose of solving human problems. Kidney disease in particular could be an area of research that could benefit from biomimetics, according to researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna.

Kidney disease is a problem in the animal kingdom, too. Both house cats and wild cats are prone to kidney disease, possibly because of high meat consumption and changes of the bacteria in their intestines, Johanna Painer of University of Veterinary Medicine in Viennato told Science Daily.

Vampire bats and bears, in contrast, have developed mechanisms that protect them against the disease. "Studies of felids [the cat family] may provide information on links between red meat consumption, gut microbiota, and kidney disease. Studies of hibernating bears could help identify new strategies to treat and prevent complications such as muscle wasting, pressure ulcers, thrombosis, and osteoporosis during longer periods of bedriddenness," said Painer.

Want to be a part of bringing new treatments to kidney disease patients faster? There are currently more than 450 kidney disease clinical trials looking for volunteers in the U.S. Start your search for your clinical trial match below.