“In Italy there are about 2.5 million people suffering from kidney disease and of these 50 thousand are forced to undergo dialysis” explains Giuseppe Remuzzi, Director of the Mario Negri IRCCS Institute of Pharmacological Research, who has covered, among other things, 2015 the office of President of the International Society of Nephrology, which celebrates World Kidney Day every year on March 11, to raise awareness of the condition of all these people who need to be given hope through research and study. On the occasion of World Kidney Day, the Institute launched an awareness campaign on the spread of this disease and fundraising to support research to improve patients’ life expectancy.
The function of the kidneys is very complex: they regulate the quantity and composition of the liquids in our body, and remove waste substances that are useless and even dangerous to health. The kidneys regulate blood pressure and also perform a hormonal function, with the production of erythropoietin, responsible for the maturation of red blood cells, or the activation of vitamin D essential for bone metabolism. The kidneys are able to guarantee a good balance of body functions even when they are severely damaged: they can lose much of their functionality without any disturbance being felt.
This is an advantage but also a disadvantage because kidney disease can often show signs of itself when it is very advanced, when it is necessary to intervene with dialysis or transplant. For this reason, early detection of kidney diseases is very important, and public awareness such as the one we want to implement with the World Day is fundamental. Prevention applies to everyone. “In practice – recommends Amantia Imeraj, nephrologist at the Laboratory of Documentation and Research on Rare Diseases of the Mario Negri Institute – to ensure that the kidneys work properly for as long as possible, it is important to conduct a style of healthy life, that is: regularly hydrate; follow a varied and balanced diet; reduce the consumption of salt, which can promote hypertension; not smoking; engage in regular physical activity to keep obesity and metabolic diseases at bay; keep blood pressure under control; do not overdo alcohol, because the excess of alcoholic beverages is a risk factor for chronic renal failure that few think about ».
Mario Negri’s research aims to prevent or treat kidney disease. These are some examples The leading cause of end-stage renal failure worldwide is type 2 diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. In this context, the Mario Negri Institute has achieved important results. «The clinical studies conducted in the Institute – explains Matias Trillini, researcher at the Laboratory of Advanced Phases of Drug Development in Man – have allowed us to test and develop drugs that reduce renal protein loss. These drugs have become standard in the treatment of diabetic nephropathy around the world ”.
Another area of research concerns the polycystic kidney, an inherited disease that leads to the formation of pockets of fluid – called cysts – in both kidneys. As the cysts grow larger they reach considerable size, progressively leading to insufficient organ function. «Polycystic kidney disease – explains Anna Caroli, head of the Medical Imaging laboratory – has long been an orphan disease, that is a pathology for which there was no therapy. In recent years, also thanks to the results of our research, two drugs have been authorized for the treatment ».
However, when renal function is lost, the kidney transplant allows the recipient to return to an almost normal life, free from the constraint of dialysis, without the health problems caused by renal failure. However, the transplanted kidney is perceived by the recipient’s immune system as a foreign organ. Today there are several drugs that are able to keep rejection under control, however, these drugs have side effects, even serious over time, as they must be taken for life. “At Mario Negri – remembers Federica Casiraghi, head of the transplant immunology laboratory – we are experimenting with ways to teach the immune system of those who have been transplanted not to attack the new kidney, but to ‘tolerate’ it so as not to have to resort to no anti-rejection drugs. The protocol developed, which has already registered some successes, envisages the use of a particular type of stem cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, isolated from the bone marrow ».
March 10, 2021 (change March 10, 2021 | 11:10 am)