A BC team will co-lead Canada’s 5-year, $59 million initiative to reduce the number of people who need dialysis or organ transplants, or who develop related illnesses that are debilitating or deadly. Chronic kidney disease affects 1 in 10 Canadians, and this initiative will explore various solutions:
• Broader screening, especially among indigenous people, who are more at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
• Potential biomarkers that enable earlier diagnosis and predict who is at most risk for kidney failure.
• Drugs or stem cells that could slow the disease’s progression.
• Education about proven strategies for diet and water consumption.
• New ways of providing care, especially for people who live far from kidney specialists.
One clinical trial will test stem cells that have been shown in animal models to improve kidney function; another will examine drugs used for diabetes and arthritis that also hold potential for treating chronic kidney disease. Other projects will explore changes in care delivery. One study will provide family physicians and their patients with information about an individual’s risk of developing chronic kidney disease, to see if more information leads to better outcomes. Another team will assess patients’ preferences in dealing with their health care providers, including their willingness to use technology to communicate with physicians or even to partially manage their own care using software.
The initiative also will try to improve the last-resort therapies of dialysis and organ transplantation. One project will test whether certain drugs or treatments can reduce itching and restless leg syndrome, which are common side effects of dialysis. Another project will explore ways of streamlining the process by which people voluntarily donate one of their kidneys.
Dr Adeera Levin, head of the Division of Nephrology at the University of British Columbia and executive director of the BC Renal Agency, is leading the project with the University of Calgary’s Dr Braden Manns and believes this work can be a model for how other complex chronic diseases are approached. Several other Canadian universities are participating in one or more of the projects, and people living with kidney disease are participating in the projects’ design, management, and follow-through.
Watch a video about the initiative, below.
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