College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Experts hail kidney gene find

Scientists have discovered 20 genes that could help explain the causes of kidney disease and ‘revolutionise’ treatments.

Chronic kidney disease affects about one in 10 adults and can require dialysis or even an organ transplant.

Experts said the Nature Genetics study was "a great breakthrough".

Kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition in which the kidneys progressively lose their function.

People tend not to notice symptoms, which can include swollen ankles and hands or blood in the urine, until the condition is advanced.

It is linked to ageing - about one in five men and one in four women aged between 65 and 74 will have some degree of CKD.

The most common cause of CKD is damage caused by other long-term conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

It was known there was a genetic component to the disease, but not which genes were involved.

'First step'

In this study, an international team of scientists, including researchers at the University, looked at the genes of nearly 70,000 people across Europe.

They found 13 new genes that influence renal function and seven others that affect the production and secretion of creatinine - a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism and filtered through the kidneys.

This work could revolutionise the treatment of kidney disease in the future - but this will take some time. It's a very critical first step towards a completely new understanding of the biology behind CKD. Transferring what we've found into clinical benefits will take some years.

Dr Jim WilsonRoyal Society University Research Fellow at the University