Kidney Disease


Many areas of Research

Researchers are working at every stage of kidney disease to improve diagnosis and treatment, including

  • trying to find a better way to identify who is at greatest risk for rapidly progressing kidney disease
  • trying to find more effective medications to treat kidney disease and its risk factors, and
  • improving dialysis and the results of kidney transplantation.

Several areas of research supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) hold great potential. Emphasis is being placed on research related to prevention and early intervention in kidney disease.

Interaction With Other Diseases

Another focus is on the interaction between kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular (heart) disease. Advances in treatments for diabetes and high blood pressure may help reduce the damage these conditions do to the kidneys in the first place. Research into how to predict who will develop kidney disease may improve prevention.

Disease Progression

NIDDK is sponsoring a major study -- the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) study -- to learn more about how kidney disease progresses. CRIC is following 6,000 adults with mild to moderate kidney disease. About half have diabetes.

It is believed that some CRIC study participants' kidney function will decline more rapidly than others', and that some will develop cardiovascular disease while others won't. The goal of the study is to identify the factors linked to rapid decline of kidney function and the development of cardiovascular disease.

The data and specimens collected from study participants will be available to other researchers who are studying kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The CRIC study will allow future investigation into the role of genetic, environmental, behavioral, nutritional, and other factors in kidney disease.

Learn more about the CRIC Study.

Improving Transplants

In the area of transplantation, researchers are working to develop new drugs that help the body accept donated organs. The goal is to help transplanted kidneys survive longer and work better.

NIDDK scientists are also developing new techniques to improve the body's tolerance for foreign tissue even before the donated kidney is transplanted. This could help reduce or eliminate the need for drugs that suppress the immune system, which could reduce transplantation costs and complications. In the future, scientists may even develop an artificial kidney for implantation.