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 and protecting kidney function.
  • New solutions are being developed for peritoneal dialysis, and haemodialysis filters are changing to get better clearance of toxins. New machines are being developed for haemodialysis and there is new technology for support at home with data being transferred electronically.
  • 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 or parts of a 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 oral drugs which may be as effective as ESAs and new ways to give iron.
  • Checking the adequacy of dialysis is a major problem and new tests are being developed which will allow a simple but robust 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 other conditions identifying the genes and leading to a greater knowledge of how the disease process damages the kidneys. New treatments are possible with this knowledge and the first treatments are available for polycystic kidney disease and FAbrys Disease for instance.

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