Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Genes in kidney failure risk unlocked

Once again the Rambam Medical Center is at the forefront of discoveries that can solve chronic problems.

Chronic kidney disease affects millions in North America, with persons of African heritage being at a four-fold higher risk, and those of Hispanic heritage having a two-fold higher risk compared to the rest of the population.

Researchers in the USA working with the Rambam team recently announced that they've discovered a gene likely involved in the increased risk of kidney failure with those of African heritage.

Tremendous excitement has been growing in the scientific community worldwide, with an intense race to determine the genetic link responsible for the greatly increased risk many people of African heritage face for end-stage kidney disease and the need for dialysis or transplantation.

While much of the world has focused on the MYH9 gene, a team from the
Rambam Medical Center and Technion in Haifa, Israel led by Toronto's own Dr. Karl Skorecki, has discovered that variations in a neighbouring gene, called APOL1, is much more likely to be involved.

Identifying the correct gene that puts people at risk for progressive kidney disease is necessary to understand the underlying reason for the increased risk, and to be able to find strategies to prevent or slow down kidney failure.

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