These findings, which are reported in the July 2003 issue of Nature Medicine, could help lead to the development of a therapeutic alternative for the nearly 300,000 kidney disease patients who are currently undergoing dialysis.
"Dialysis is not really a treatment, it's just a means of survival until an opportunity for a transplant opens up," notes the study's senior author Raghu Kalluri, Ph.D., director of the Center for Matrix Biology at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "This is a very tedious way of living life," he adds, explaining that the process of mechanically filtering blood through a machine to remove waste products must be performed several times a week for a period of three to four hours per visit, posing risks of infection and other side effects. Furthermore, the procedure is extremely costly.
The kidneys function as a filtration system, keeping the body's blood supply healthy by removing excess fluids and wastes, as well as by producing hormones. When kidneys "fail" as can result from complications associated with diabetes, lupus or several other diseases harmful wastes accumulate in the bloodstream, excess fluids build up in the body, and red blood cell production is impeded. Once chronic kidney disease develops, it cannot be reversed or repaired; when the organs cease to function, patients have no alternative but to undergo dialysis while awaiting a kidney transplant.
This new study looked at the role of a molecule called bone morphogenic protein (BMP)- 7 which, in its recombinant form, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of bone fractures. Earlier studies had revealed that BMP-7 is hi
Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center