£3.7m international research project to discover new tests and treatments for diabetic kidney disease

Posted June 15, 2016

  • £3.7m project to find genetic factors that lead to greater risk of developing kidney failure

DNA samples from 20,000 people with diabetes will be examined by an international research project to identify the genetic factors that underpin diabetic kidney disease.

Professor Catherine Godson, UCD School of Medicine and Diabetes Complications Research Centre, will lead UCD’s involvement in the five-year project. It is part of a new £3.7 million US-Ireland research partnership aiming to explain why some people with diabetes are at higher risk than others of developing kidney failure.

The grants have been awarded under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. 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.

The findings will provide vital information that could enable personalised preventative care for people with a genetic profile that puts them at risk of developing kidney complications.

Pictured right: Prof Godson, UCD's lead in the £3.7m project.

Understanding the mechanisms that drive disease in susceptible people may help to develop novel therapeutic strategies addressing a significant unmet need as diabetic kidney disease is the leading cause of kidney failure worldwide.

Professor Catherine Godson will collaborate with Dr Denise Sadlier, Mater University Hospital, and Professor Peter Conlon’s team at Beaumont Hospital.

Diabetes is a major global public health problem that affects one in 12 of the world’s population. The rapid upsurge in diabetes is fuelling an increase in the number of people with kidney failure.

Diabetic kidney disease is now the most common cause of end-stage kidney failure in the world. It is often not detected until it is at an advanced stage leading eventually to organ failure.

Around 3,775 patients in Ireland are in end-stage kidney failure which requires chronic dialysis or kidney transplant (2012). One out of every four patients starting dialysis each year in the UK and Ireland has diabetic kidney disease.

Pictured front: Prof Godson speaking at Dublin Talks.

The partner agencies in the Republic of Ireland are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB).

This research partnership is a unique arrangement involving funding agencies in the USA, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Their combined resources will enable the best researchers to work together on research to address critical issues and generate valuable discoveries that will impact on patient care.

The international research programme is known as GENIE (GEnetics of Nephropathy; an International Effort) and has already made some major discoveries that have contributed to our understanding of diabetic kidney disease.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations