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Beating kidney disease together

March 03, 2017

Chronic kidney disease is a frequently encountered disorder: more than 10% of the population suffer from such problems. In a large proportion of these cases, the kidney damage is diabetes-induced. Universitätsklinikum Erlangen has joined forces with around 30 international partners in a consortium which aims to improve therapeutic options. The project is being financed with approximately EUR 29 million, most of which has been funded by the EU and third-party organizations.

Blood vessels in the kidneys constrict which makes the vessel walls more permeable and stops renal corpuscles from filtering the blood efficiently. Diabetes-related kidney disease often ends fatally despite dialysis or renal transplantation -- the mortality rate is even higher than most forms of cancer. Currently there is no form of therapy which can avoid or cure diabetic kidney disease.

Joining forces with 30 international partners

A consortium consisting of more than 20 academic institutions based in Europe and the USA, various pharmaceutical and biotechnology businesses and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation have launched the BEAt-DKD ('Biomarker Enterprise to Attack Diabetic Kidney Disease') project with the aim of improving the options available to prevent and treat diabetes-induced kidney disease. The consortium plans to identify the mechanisms and signal pathways that are involved in the development of kidney damage in the presence of diabetes. It is hoped that once such mechanisms have been identified, these can be used as a starting point for the creation of new therapeutic approaches. Researchers also aim to pinpoint biomarkers such as proteins or metabolic substances which indicate disease development. These biomarkers should help to predict the course of the disease and treatment success leading to less extensive clinical trials and more accurate therapy.

The largest study on kidney disease in Europe

Professor Kai-Uwe Eckardt, Chair of Internal Medicine 4, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen is participating in the joint project. Since 2007 and together with his team, he has been supervising a nationwide cohort study of kidney failure in Germany (GCKD study: German Chronic Kidney Disease) which is now part of the BEAt-DKD project. Over 5000 patients who have suffered from different forms of chronic kidney disease have been observed in the study over a period of ten years, including patients with diabetes-related kidney disease. 'There are significant differences in the progression of different types of kidney disease,' explains Professor Eckardt. The reasons for this and the factors relating to the progression of the disease are still not yet understood. The study aims to better understand the causes, progression, influences and the consequences of later stages of the disease for developing better diagnostic and therapeutic measures. GCKD is one of the first studies in Europe which is large enough to bring together correlations between biomarkers, disease progression and complications. Professor Uwe Eckardt is certain that this research will lead to new discoveries in diabetes-related kidney disease.
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Read more on the BEAt-DKD study at http://www.imi.europa.eu/content/beat-dkd

More information on the nationwide cohort study on kidney disease in Germany (GCKD study) is available from the Universitätsklinkum Erlangen website (in German): http://www.medizin4.uk-erlangen.de/forschung/patientennahe-forschung/gckd-studie

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

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