A new way to predict kidney disease in type 2 diabetes

Credit: Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

What’s the Problem?

For people with type 2 diabetes, kidney disease is a common and serious complication. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure around the world.

In the U.S., almost half of all kidney disease and dialysis cases are due to diabetes. In Asia, this number rises to 50%.

So, doctors are always on the lookout for ways to predict and prevent kidney disease in these patients.

A Promising Solution

Now, researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have come up with a solution.

They’ve developed a computer-based way to predict whether someone with type 2 diabetes will get kidney disease.

This prediction could help doctors either stop kidney disease from happening or manage it better if it does occur.

Kevin Yip, Ph.D., one of the leading authors of the study, believes this is a look into the future of diagnostic medicine.

By combining patient data with the latest technology, this computer model could help doctors tailor treatment for each patient to prevent kidney disease.

How Does It Work?

The new approach is based on something called DNA methylation. This is when tiny changes build up in our DNA.

These changes can tell us which genes are switched on or off. They can be easily measured through blood tests.

The computer model uses these DNA methylation markers to predict both current and future kidney function.

This means the model could be used alongside existing methods to evaluate a patient’s risk for kidney disease, explains Yip.

Testing the Model

To develop their model, the researchers used data from more than 1,200 patients with type 2 diabetes from the Hong Kong Diabetes Register.

They also tested the model on a separate group of 326 Native Americans with type 2 diabetes. This testing helped to make sure that their model could predict kidney disease in different groups of people.

The Hong Kong Diabetes Register is an invaluable resource, according to Juliana Chan, M.D., FRCP, who established the Register more than 20 years ago.

The Register follows up with patients for many years, giving a full picture of how diabetes can affect a person’s health over decades.

The Future of the Model

Currently, the researchers are working on fine-tuning their model.

They’re also looking to use this approach to answer other health questions, such as why some cancer patients don’t respond well to certain treatments.

As the science continues to evolve, the team is hopeful about using their model to further advance personalized medicine in diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about how COVID-19 is linked to diabetes, and scientists find a new way to detect fatty liver disease accurately.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that the Keto diet could benefit overweight people with diabetes, and results showing the Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one-third.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

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