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Study targets key molecule to reverse kidney damage in mice
Date:3/7/2012

BOSTON -- In findings that may lead to clinical trials of a promising new drug for kidney disease, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and their colleagues have identified a key molecular player and shown how a targeted experimental drug can reverse kidney damage in mouse models of diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic kidney disease, and other kidney injuries.

The study builds on a discovery that, in mice, a key protein can repair and reverse renal fibrosis, the critical damage caused by different kidney diseases in humans. The new paper details 10 years of methodical follow-up experiments to understand, verify and harness the protective molecular process with a new drug that can be tested in people. The paper appears in the March 2012 issue of Nature Medicine.

"This paper reports the discovery of one of the first targeted drugs specifically developed to reverse fibrosis and regenerate the kidney," said senior author Raghu Kalluri, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Matrix Biology at BIDMC and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "We're optimistic about the benefits, but the real proof will come from clinical testing."

Chronic kidney disease is becoming a major public health problem, partly due to the increase in obesity, diabetes, hypertension and an aging population. It affects one out of every 10 people older than 20, and is most prevalent in those over 60. Most people with impaired kidney function are in the early stages and have no symptoms, but deteriorating kidneys significantly raise the risk of death by cardiovascular disease. Those who survive heart attacks and strokes can progress to end-stage renal disease, which requires dialysis in most cases or transplants when donor kidneys are available.

"The field is desperate for new interventions that can halt or slow the progression of renal failure," said nephrologist Qais Al-Awqati, MB, ChB, a professor of medicine and
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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