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DNA from 20,000 people to help discover new treatments for diabetic kidney disease

Posted: 3 June 2016 | Victoria White, Digital Content Producer | No comments yet

Researchers are to examine DNA samples from 20,000 people with diabetes to help identify the genetic factors in diabetic kidney disease…

Researchers are to examine DNA samples from 20,000 people with diabetes to help identify the genetic factors in diabetic kidney disease.

The five-year research project is part of a new £3.7M US-Ireland research partnership which is aiming to explain why some people with diabetes are at higher risk than others of developing kidney failure – vital information that could enable personalised preventative care for those whose genetic profile puts them at risk of developing kidney complications.

This initiative brings together world-leading experts in diabetes and genetics research at Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, University of Helsinki in Finland and the Broad Institute, Boston, USA.

Understanding diabetes

Commenting on the new project, Professor Peter Maxwell, from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University, said: “The research team will study DNA from 20,000 people from all around the world with three main aims. Firstly, we will explore important variations in DNA to discover why some people with diabetes are at higher risk of kidney failure compared with others who seem to be protected from developing this complication.

“Secondly, we hope to better understand how having a poor control of diabetes – high blood sugars over a long period of time – can lead to the re-programming of DNA and an increased risk of kidney failure. Thirdly, we aim to develop new tests that could be used to screen people with diabetes to assess their risk of developing kidney complications and help select the best preventative treatment.”

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of the Public Health Agency’s HSC R&D Division, which is funding the Northern Ireland part of this project with support from the Medical Research Council, said: “We are delighted to be funding this project which will tackle an important area of public health. We expect that the outcomes of this international research will lead to significant advances in the treatment of patients with diabetic kidney disease in the UK, Ireland and beyond.”

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