MicroRNA could help to treat diabetic kidney problems

Wed, 09 Mar 2011
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, have been able to improve kidney function in mice with diabetic nephropathy ( kidney disease ). News of the research coincides with Thursday 10th March which marks World Kidney Day 2011.

The mice were given a chemical to inhibit a genetic material known as microRNA-29c. It is thought that microRNA-29c reduces the activity of a gene called Sprouty homolog 1 which helps in kidney development. The result of the treatment was that the mice were excreting lower quantities of protein in their urine than they had been and, after 22 weeks, were found to be benefitting from significantly improve kidney function.

Associate Professor of Medicine, Dr Danesh commented: "The beauty of blocking microRNAs is that you do not have to knock out the gene completely. The microRNAs exert modest effect on their target genes, and if a gene is upregulated by about 20 to 25 percent, you can bring it down to normal physiological levels by inhibiting the microRNA." Kidney problems are believed to have an effect on 40 per cent of people with diabetes at some point of their lives but it is a complication that comes on gradually, so with good blood glucose control and management of blood pressure, the progression can be slowed.

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine hope that if they can develop a way to safely inhibit specific microRNA in people, their research could lead to a treatment that could help to halt or reverse the damage of diabetic nephropathy.
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