Evening Times UK "City doctor gives hope to kidney patients"
Prof. Dr Harald Mischak wants disease identified at the earliest possible stage.
Patients at risk of developing kidney failure and coronary artery disease have been offered fresh hope by a Glasgow-based scientist.
Dr Harald Mischak has identified proteins in the blood stream which can indicate if someone with diabetes is likely to develop kidney disease later in life.
The findings mean patients at risk of Diabetic Nephropathy, the most common form of kidney failure, could be treated with existing drugs to prevent the condition developing and prolong their life.
Studies show the prognosis for patients is poor when the illness progresses to the stage where they require dialysis.
Dr Mischak says the research could also have significant implications for coronary heart disease, studies show patients with kidney disease are several times more likely to develop heart problems.
The Glasgow University-based scientist is recognised as a world leader in Proteomics, an emerging science focused on study of the proteins involved in cell metabolism and function.
Dr Mischak has been appointed to lead proteomics research at the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre, based at Glasgow University.
He now plans to carry out a major study to back up his research using more than 2000 urine samples of diabetic patients in Scotland and hopes patients at risk could be treated within the next few years.
He said: "Our entire bodies are composed of proteins, which build up the body and are also messengers that communicate between the cells.
"In disease these proteins change or become disturbed in some way, telling a certain tumour cell to grow or to build up certain tissue in your arteries.
"We know by now that changes in the protein level will be the first indicators of disease.
"Many diabetic patients will develop renal disfunction which requires therapeutic drug intervention and in the worst of all cases when they lose their renal function, they will go on dialysis."
He continued: "It doesn't improve their quality of life and also the prognosis is quite poor. Usually they don't survive long on dialysis.
"We have identified certain proteins which are excellent predictors for this condition so that we can detect the disease on average four to five years before the first clinical symptoms are evident. There are drugs available that can change the outcome.
"It is the difference between being on dialysis at 65 or 95. The aim is to stop the disease at the very earliest point in time so that patients will not run into the problem of having dialysis."
Dr Mischak said the science is only beneficial if the appropriate drugs are available to treat conditions at the very earliest stages before symptoms develop.
He said this had affected studies involving Alzheimer patients because drugs are not yet available to halt the progression of the disease.
However the trials could have major implications for cancers and patients developing coronary artery disease.
He said: "There is enough literature around that shows that the kidney and heart are heavily connected so if you have a deteriorating kidney function your chances of developing coronary artery disease increase several-fold and vice versa."