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Bristol researchers reveal most effective treatment for common kidney disorder

Generic image of a patient undergoing dialysis treatment

Generic image of a patient undergoing dialysis treatment

Press release issued: 9 January 2013

The results of a pioneering UK-wide clinical trial that compared treatments for patients with a common type of kidney disease has found one to be significantly more effective. The results of the study, published online in The Lancet today [9 Jan], will be recommended to clinicians worldwide as the most effective approach to treating the condition.

The results of a pioneering UK-wide clinical trial that compared treatments for patients with a common type of kidney disease has found one to be significantly more effective. The results of the study, published online in The Lancet today [9 Jan], will be recommended to clinicians worldwide as the most effective approach to treating the condition.

The Medical Research Council-funded study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol’s Academic Renal Unit based in Southmead Hospital, compared three treatment approaches in a type of kidney disorder known as ‘membranous nephropathy’. 

The condition, which leads to changes and inflammation of the structures inside the kidney that help filter wastes and fluids, is usually managed with immunosuppressive drugs but has a high risk of causing kidney failure in patients. Previous studies of the disorder, which is costly to treat (kidney failure treatments cost $40 billion in the US in 2008), show that once kidney function starts to decline, continued deterioration can be expected.

The research team, led by Professor Peter Mathieson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, carried out a randomised controlled trial involving 108 patients with 20 per cent decline in renal function at 37 renal units across the UK. The patients were randomised to one of three treatment approaches and followed up by the team over three years.

The team evaluated results from 33 patients who were treated with prednisolone and chlorambucil, 37 patients with ciclosporin, and 38 patients who were provided with supportive therapy alone.

They found that for patients with membranous nephropathy, six months’ therapy with alternating monthly cycles of prednisolone and chlorambucil was the most effective option. This approach was shown to be the most effective in preventing further renal decline in patients with the benefits maintained over the three-year study period and thus the recommended treatment approach.

Professor Mathieson, the study’s lead author and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University, said: “Kidney failure is a devastating condition that is difficult and expensive to treat and our best strategies are to aim to prevent it wherever possible by more effective treatment of the underlying kidney problems. This clinical trial took a very long time to complete and I was helped by kidney specialists, research nurses and patients in Bristol and all over the UK. The results improve the evidence-base for our treatments in this form of kidney disease.“

The study, entitled Immunosuppression for progressive membranous nephropathy: a UK randomised controlled trial, was funded by the Medical Research Council, Novartis, the Renal Association and Kidney Research UK and is published online in The Lancet. Professor Mathieson would particularly like to thank Tracey Chapman (trial administrator) and Maria Langdon (research nurse) both based in Bristol for all their hard work and the Medical Research Council for the principal funding.

 

 

 

 

Further information

Medical Research Council

For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk

The Renal Association

The Renal Association is the professional body for United Kingdom nephrologists (renal physicians, or kidney doctors) and renal scientists in the UK. It is active in the planning and development of renal services and nephrology in Britain. It is also involved in the promotion and dissemination of research and education relating to the specialty.

Kidney Research UK

Kidney Research UK was founded in 1961 and is the leading UK charity dedicated to funding research aimed at finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for kidney disease.