Flagship genetics project to uncover hidden figures in chronic kidney disease

1 February 2018

Researchers say a major genomic study will provide answers for patients with unexplained kidney disease, and could lead to better treatments.

The national project is being led by kidney specialist Dr Andrew Mallett, a Clinical Fellow at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and lecturer with the Faculty of Medicine.

“Unfortunately, my colleagues and I see many patients in the clinic who don’t know why they have kidney disease, despite our best efforts to identify the cause,” Dr Mallett said.

“It’s extremely disheartening for them, their families and their clinicians, particularly as they may be facing dialysis or a kidney transplant.”

Dr Mallett said researchers will work with patients who have unexplained advanced and end-stage kidney disease to see if their genes could hold the key to a definitive diagnosis.

“Genomics is an emerging technology that allows us to examine the coding of all of our genes, and the changes within them, in a rapid and effective way to understand potential genetic or inheritable causes for disorders.

“We hope that this approach will also reveal ways to better support patients and their families through their clinical journey from a multitude of perspectives, including treatment and their health outcomes.”

Dr Mallett heads the KidGen Collaborative, an Australian consortium of clinicians, genetic counsellors and diagnosticians and researchers with a focus on inherited forms of kidney disease.

The new project, entitled HIDDEN (Whole Genome Investigation to Identify Undetected Nephropathies), is a partnership between KidGen and Australian Genomics, an NHMRC-funded research network committed to integrating genomic medicine into Australian healthcare.

“KidGen currently has 14 affiliated renal genetics clinics all around the country, with the first established at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital,” Dr Mallett said.

“No one centre could undertake this study in isolation, and we’re also drawing in expertise from Kidney Health Australia, and other leading research institutions in Sydney, Melbourne, the UK and New Zealand.

In Brisbane, the project will involve the RBWH Kidney Health Service, Genetics Health Queensland and Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Child and Adolescent Renal Service, who together operate the Queensland Conjoint Renal Genetics Service, along with UQ.

“Through these partnerships we are able to lead initiatives like HIDDEN to help answer some of the big questions remaining about kidney disease, with the tools we are acquiring from the genomic revolution in science and healthcare,” Dr Mallett said.

Media: IMB Communications, communications@imb.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 2134, +61 418 575 247. 


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