Discovery predicts future kidney disease with simple blood test

Researchers have identified a common protein in the blood – measured by a simple test – that can reliably predict a person's risk of developing chronic kidney disease months and even years before the common ailment starts causing damage. The findings are published in the November 12, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

High levels of suPAR, or soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor, a circulating protein in the blood could be an indicator of future kidney disease much like cholesterol and blood pressure levels help predict heart disease.

For the last century, doctors have relied on creatinine levels and urine protein levels to detect and monitor kidney disease. These markers are useful in diagnosing kidney disease, but are not helpful in predicting whether a person might develop disease in the future. Emory researchers including (Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute) ACTSI-supported investigators Laurence Sperling, MD, Stamatios Lerakis, MD, and Arshed Quyyumi, MD, FRCP, FACC, have found a way to identify those at risk, in order to prevent the disease or catch it in its early stages. 

This team utilized the Emory Cardiovascular Biobank, a massive collection of blood samples taken from patients who underwent cardiac catheterization between 2003 and 2009, and sample processing and storage in the ACTSI Clinical Research Network lab, to make this discovery.

ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

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