October 13, 2017 By Elizabeth McCammon

Researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston have developed a tool that accurately predicts the risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. These people are at high risk for developing kidney disease.

Most often the risk of kidney failure is determined by two lab tests: a urine test that looks for a protein called albumin (increased levels are an early sign of kidney damage), and a blood test that looks at how well the kidneys are working. This information is important, since early treatment and lifestyle changes can prevent or delay kidney failure. However, traditional tests may miss a large number of patients who are at high risk for kidney disease, and they also may not accurately predict when the kidneys will fail.

The tool was built on a discovery in 2012 when Joslin scientists found a link between a factor in the blood called TNFR1 and declining kidney function in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. To test the tool, the scientists studied data over a three-year period of 279 patients with type 1 diabetes and 221 patients with type 2 diabetes who developed ESRD, lost 40 per cent of their kidney function, or died. The tool predicted who would develop ESRD within three years 81 per cent of the time. The findings were published online on the Kidney International website ahead of print publication.

This new tool could help doctors assess their patients’ risk of ESRD and could also help researchers develop more effective therapies to prevent or treat kidney failure.

Did You Know?

About one-third of people who have had diabetes for more than 15 years will develop kidney disease. Read more from Kidney Disease, including how good diabetes management and regular screening can prevent or delay the loss of kidney function. 

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