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A Gene Associated With Severe Kidney Failure in Diabetes Found

groups at Wake Forest and in Germany had been looking for the gene or genes after concluding that a region on chromosome 18 was important in predisposing people who have type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) to the development of severe kidney failure. Freedman said the actions of this gene apply to Europeans, American whites and Arabs.

When his group repeated the analysis in black Americans, there was no evidence that the carnosinase pathway was involved in their kidney failure.

"It is possible that American blacks have different carnosine metabolism, making them less susceptible to alterations in carnosinase gene activity. Analyses are currently under way," said Freedman. "It is also possible that an additional gene or genes on chromosome 18 is associated with susceptibility to end-stage kidney disease in black Americans, and our group is actively trying to identify them."

Freedman said that among people who are susceptible to kidney failure, "it will be important to evaluate whether the administration of carnosine or agents that inhibit carnosinase activity will protect diabetic individuals from the development of progressive kidney disease."

He said that while carnosine is available over the counter in health food stores, it is possible that excessive carnosinase enzyme activity could prevent carnosine supplementation from protecting the kidney. As such, carnosinase blockers may prove to be more important.

Freedman noted that Wake Forest researchers "have one of the largest existing collections of DNA samples from black and white families with multiple members having end-stage kidney disease. We have been evaluating these families since 1991."

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