The treatment of kidney failure

what's happening in renal research?

There is a lot of active research going on to help patients with kidney disease.
  • Research towards preventing kidney failure includes a focus on improved medication for high blood pressure. There is also much interest in the genetics of inherited kidney disorders and other conditions that cause kidney failure.

  • New solutions are being developed for peritoneal dialysis, and haemodialysis filters are changing to get better clearance of toxins.

  • Research into transplantation is aimed largely at improving the matching of kidneys to recipients, and refining the immuno-suppressant drugs that are used to prevent rejection. This may allow kidneys to be transplanted without such a close tissue match as is currently required.

  • The use of non-human kidneys for transplant (xenotransplantation) is a "hot topic" in renal research. Certainly, work is underway on this, but it's a formidable task involving many different obstacles. There is also concern about the possibility of passing animal viruses on to humans.

  • In theory, it should be possible to grow a new kidney from human cells. The practical application of this idea is many years away, but it is another possible solution to the shortage of transplant kidneys

  • New ways to treat anaemia are being developed, in particular a new kind of erythropoeitin that only needs to be given every 2-3 weeks. And new ways to give iron so that erythropoeitin can act more effectively

  • Checking the adequacy of dialysis is a major problem and new tests are being developed which will allow a simple assessment to be done.

  • Glomerulonephritis is a major problem which can cause acute and chronic kidney failure. Trials are underway in a variety of these disorders to determine exactly which treatments will produce benefits. Several are going on in the UK and the USA - you may be asked to take part.

  • Genetic studies in polycystic kidney disease and chronic pyelonephritis are identifying the genes and leading to a greater knowledge of how the disease process damages the kidneys.

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