An international study published in Nature Genetics has identified 20 new gene variations linked to increased susceptibility to chronic kidney disease (CKD)
The CKDGen consortium, which includes researchers from Edinburgh, analysed genes of over 70,000 European people and identified variations in 20 genes shared by people who had kidney disease. 13 of the genes are thought to influence renal function. The other seven appear important in the production and secretion of creatine - a chemical waste product made during metabolism, which the kidney is responsible for filtering from the blood.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often observed in patients with long-term problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Its prevalence increases with age, with women more likely to develop problems. The symptoms of CKD include swollen ankles, hands and blood in the urine. These symptoms can often go unnoticed, meaning it is now thought that CKD could affect one in 10 adults.
Dr Jim Wilson, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh who worked on the study, has said the findings could be monumental for kidney disease treatment but bringing this new information into clinical use 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', he said.