Although, experts had always suspected the condition to be genetic, the actual genes have only just been pinpointed.
This discovery is exciting, as it may provide clues for developing treatment to cure kidney failure, which often forces patients onto dialysis or a kidney transplant as the only available option for survival.
Dr Jim Wilson, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh who worked on the study, said, “The discovery of these 20 new genes is another example of how large collaborative genome wide association meta-analyses can open up the black box of disease mechanism, in this case kidney function.
“These deeper functional insights are the first steps to developing new treatments for chronic kidney disease.”
20 genes identified
A team of international scientists examined the genetic code of nearly 70,000 people across Europe.
They found that whereas 13 of the genes have an impact on the renal function such as sifting the chemical waste substances from the blood, there were seven others that may be involved in the production and emission of the chemical waste creatinine.
Role of creatinine in kidney function
Creatinine is generated from muscle metabolism. Creatinine has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of kidney function.
If the kidneys become impaired, the creatinine level in the blood rises due to poor clearance by the kidneys. An abnormal high level of the chemical is a warning of the possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys.
This is the reason that standard blood tests routinely check the amount of creatinine in the blood.
Implications of the study
The findings are important because they could help develop new medicines that could reinstate kidney functions in people afflicted with the disease. However, there was still need for further research.
Wilson stated, "This work could revolutionize the treatment of kidney disease in the future – but this will take some time.
"It’s a very critical first step towards a completely new understanding of the biology behind CKD. Transferring what we’ve found into clinical benefits will take some years."
The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease affects people of all ages. The condition damages the kidneys and decreases one’s ability to keep healthy.
The problem occurs over a period of time and results from a gradual to usually permanent loss of kidney function.
CKD may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Early detection and treatment increases the odds of slowing or stopping the progression of the disease from getting worse.
Chronic kidney failure referred to end-stage renal disease requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.