India has one of the world's largest populations of diabetics. A significant number of these individuals are at risk of developing kidney failure as a consequence of the condition. Scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) therefore decided to study if early detection of diabetic individuals at risk of developing kidney disease, was possible. This would help them take preventive measures against the onset of the disease.
“We already know that diabetics are at a high risk of developing kidney failure. What we wanted to know was whether it would be possible to identify someone who has a risk of developing kidney failure, so that effective preventive steps could be taken before the individual falls ill,” explains Dr Venkat Panchagnula, Principal Scientist and Associate Professor at CSIR - National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, who was one of the experts heading the study.
A team of scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) in Pune, researchers from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) in Chennai, and from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru were part of the team that conducted the study. The results of the study have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
500 people with diabetes were part of the research. Urine samples of these individuals were routinely screened, and researchers observed biomarkers in these samples. Biomarkers are proteins (usually) found in the body that are used to determine if there is any underlying condition. For example, certain biomarkers can be used to detect the presence of a tumour.
The scientists looked for the presence of a particular group of compounds, which are known to be present in lower levels in the urine of individuals who have begun to develop this type of kidney failure. By studying the varying levels of the presence of the compound in different individuals, scientists were able to determine at what point an individual begins to develop kidney disease.This allowed them to determine who was at a higher risk of developing diabetes related kidney disease.
“Around 16 to 17 percent of the Indian population is at a high risk of developing a chronic kidney issue because of diabetes,” explains Dr Gokulakrishnan, Assistant Professor from the Department of Neurochemistry at NIMHANS, who was also part of the team leading the study.
Going forward, the researchers hope that their findings will be applied in a clinical setting, and the treatment for diabetic patients at risk of kidney disease can be tailored accordingly.