Scientists develop first test to detect kidney disease risk in people with diabetes

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In a study from Monash University and elsewhere, scientists found the genetic markers for people with diabetes at risk of developing kidney disease.

The study opens the way for the development of a test that could predict those adults with Type 1 diabetes at risk of kidney disease before symptoms appear.

There are more than 500 million adults living with diabetes and approximately 1 in 4 adults will develop kidney disease.

More than 80% of cases of end-stage renal disease are caused by diabetes which is also a risk for high blood pressure.

The total number of people living with diabetes is projected to rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.

In the study, the team tested the genes in 1017 Scandinavian and Asian diabetes patients, looking at the process called methylation, which is when a small molecule called a methyl group gets added to DNA.

The findings showed important clues that reduced DNA methylation is closely associated with the increased risk of diabetes-related kidney disease.

These discoveries will influence how doctors screen patients with diabetes and improve risk stratification, disease prediction and diagnosis.

Currently, standard assays used in the clinic rely on assessing kidney function and the level of damage to the kidney caused by diabetes—however, the early stages of the disease are typically without symptoms.

According to the team, despite the tremendous advances in genetic testing, no risk genes for diabetic kidney disease (DKD) have been identified.

The team used innovative sequencing techniques to develop gene methylation risk scores that are tightly associated with early detection and the development of diabetic kidney disease.

The researchers hope that routine gene methylation testing for diabetic complications such as kidney disease will soon be a standard part of the treatment plan, as it is for more common cancers.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to protect your kidneys from diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and eating nuts linked to lower risk of chronic kidney disease and death.

The study was conducted by Professor Sam El-Osta et al and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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