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Researchers discovered many new genetic causes for kidney diseases
More and more people with kidney diseases live in Germany. These are often caused by certain diseases such as diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure. But genes also play an important role. Researchers have now discovered many new genetic causes for kidney diseases.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes
Around eight million people in Germany have chronic kidney disease, around 8,000 of whom are waiting for a kidney transplant. "The most common causes of chronic kidney disease in adults are diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure", explains the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) on the portal "gesundheitsinformation.de". But other causes also play a role, including genes. Researchers have now discovered many new genetic causes for kidney diseases.
Important for drug development
In a multi-year project, researchers at the Freiburg University Medical Center, together with international collaboration partners, evaluated data from 1.05 million study participants worldwide in order to identify new risk genes for kidney diseases.
According to a statement from the university clinic, they have identified 166 new gene locations for the first time.
Scientists believe that risk variants in eleven of these genes are particularly relevant and could be important for drug development, among other things.
For their study published in the journal "Nature Genetics", the Freiburg scientists led a consortium with more than 270 research departments worldwide.
"Our study helps to understand how kidney damage occurs and it provides urgently needed approaches for new therapies," says lead author Dr. Matthias Wuttke, doctor and scientist at the Institute for Genetic Epidemiology at the University Medical Center Freiburg.
“Chronic kidney disease is one of the fastest growing causes of death in the past ten years. But they are hardly noticed in public, ”says Wuttke.
Comprehensive data analysis required
According to the experts, the proof that the occurrence of certain gene variants is related to a disease is scientifically highly complex and requires extensive data analysis.
To this end, the researchers evaluated data sets from the international "Chronic Kidney Disease Genetics (CKDGen) Consortium" and the US "Million Veteran Program".
“It was only because of the enormous size of our study that we were able to find so many new gene locations that are most likely to favor kidney diseases,” explains study leader Prof. Dr. Anna Köttgen, director of the Institute for Genetic Epidemiology at the University Hospital Freiburg.
Some genes seem particularly promising for a therapeutic approach
According to the information, no influence on kidney function was known for 166 of the 264 gene changes found.
"Eleven of the identified genes seem particularly promising for a therapeutic approach," said co-author Dr. Yong Li from the Institute of Genetic Epidemiology.
"We hope that new ways can be found to treat kidney diseases."
The scientists particularly focused on genes that affect the kidney's ability to remove contaminants from the blood by filtration.
The researchers also compared the gene activity of 46 tissue types throughout the body and were able to show that many relevant gene changes lead to a change in the gene activity in the tissue of the kidneys and the genitourinary tract.
"This strongly suggests that new therapies should also start directly in these tissues," says Wuttke.
Chronic kidney disease - when the body poisons itself
As explained in the message, the kidneys filter around 1,500 liters of blood a day. They control the water and mineral balance and are central detoxification organs of the body.
If these functions are disturbed, various complaints can arise. These include swelling of the legs or face, fatigue, nausea, weight loss or muscle cramps.
In the final stage, kidney failure, patients with dialysis, also called blood washing, and long-term treatment with kidney transplantation can be treated.
According to the IQWiG, more than 2000 donor kidneys are transplanted every year. "Kidney transplants make up more than half of all organ transplants in Germany," write the experts.
And: "Around 10,000 people die in Germany every year as a result of chronic kidney disease." (Ad)