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Kidney disease link to gene

20th July 2010

Some people in African-American communities are more likely to develop kidney disease because of the gene that may protect them from sleeping sickness, according to a joint US and Belgian research team.

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The researchers found that, on average, black Americans were four times more likely to develop kidney disease than any other group.

The researchers already knew that black people in the US were more likely to suffer from kidney disease than white people.

The researchers found that people who had two copies of the gene were up to 10 times more likely to develop kidney disease than other African-Americans.

The researchers said that about 30% of African Americans tested positive for the risk-inducing gene, APOL1.

Lead researcher Martin Pollak, of Harvard Medical School, who teamed up with colleagues at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, said that the genes that caused susceptibility to kidney disease were the same ones that conferred human immunity against the parasite responsible for sleeping sickness.

The researchers found that were two variants of APOL1, known as G1 and G2, each of which contributed to the development of a different type of kidney disease.

Pollak said that G1 and G2 both changed the coding sequence of APOL1, and that he hoped the finding would help doctors develop new ways to treat trypanosome infection and kidney disease.

For the study, the researchers analysed data from the 1,000 Genomes Project, which aims to sequence the genetics of everyone worldwide.

Sickle cell disease, which is more common in black people, is also known to protect against trypanosomes.

Like APOL1, the gene that causes sickle cell is particularly deadly if people have two copies of it.

As for the action of APOL1 against trypanosomes, the researchers found that the gene produced a protein toxic to Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, the parasite responsible for sleeping sickness.

Kidney disease is becoming more and more common in the United States, and high blood pressure is also a risk factor.

Pollak said that his team was excited that the finding appeared to relate kidney disease in the United States with human evolution and parasite infection in Africa.


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Article Information

Title: Kidney disease link to gene
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15556
Date Added: 20th Jul 2010

Sources

Genetic cause of kidney disease apparently unfolded

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