What is chronic kidney disease? Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, is the condition when the kidneys are damaged and they cannot filter blood as they should. The kidneys eliminate the body’s waste products and the excess of water, producing urine. When the kidneys are damaged, the waste products cannot be driven out properly, so they start to accumulate in the body, causing other health issues. Unfortunately, CKD worsens throughout time. Also, in early stages of CKD, it is possible that patients don’t have any symptoms, until the disease keeps advancing and the kidneys nearly stop working. Some of the early symptoms may include arterial hypertension, urinary tract infections, among others. As the disease progresses, there may be other symptoms such as abnormal urine tests, low cell blood counts, loss of appetite, fluid retention, and fatigue. In the last stage of CKD, the kidneys lose all capacity to eliminate waste products. Patients in this stage require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and arterial hypertension, but there are also other conditions that can damage the kidneys. For example, lupus, scleroderma, some birth defects, kidney lesions, infections, ingestion of some medications, etc. There are some tests that are performed in order to help diagnose CDK, such as the measurement of albumin / creatinine in urine, blood pressure, serum creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen. Other types of tests such as biopsies, ultrasounds, and CT scans may also be performed.
There is currently no cure for CKD. The treatments mostly involve treating the complications caused by CKD. For example, patients may be given angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers to lower blood pressure; statins to lower cholesterol; oral iron or erythropoietin for anemia; diuretics for swelling; among others. In the last stage of CKD, as mentioned before, patients require dialysis or kidney transplant as treatment. Nowadays, there are several companies working in developing new treatments to target CKD complications or the disease itself. To mention a few, Cara Therapeutics is researching an injection to treat CKD associated pruritis in patients on hemodialysis. GlaxoSmithKline is performing clinical trials on a hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor as a treatment for CKD related anemia. Dimerix is also currently researching a molecule for diabetic patients with CKD. Althian is in fact about to begin an anemia related CKD trial. As a team, we are very happy to be involved in the nephrology area because we know there is a great opportunity for patients. Contact us for more information about our experience in nephrology and we’ll be glad to help.