Australian researchers discover key driver of kidney disease

12/22/2021
Australian researchers have discovered a genetic mutation that is a key driver of kidney disease.

In a study published on Wednesday, researchers from several Australian institutions led by Australian National University (ANU) sequenced the genome of patients with autoimmune kidney disease and Indigenous Australians with high rates of kidney disease.

They found that a mutation in the gene VANGL1 is a major risk factor in developing kidney disease, Xinhua news agency reported.

Approximately 15 per cent of people have the mutation which, when coupled with an inflammatory disease, permits damage to the kidney.

Simon Jiang, lead author of the study from ANU's College of Health and Medicine, said the finding could have major implications for Tiwi Islanders.

The Tiwi Islands consist of two inhabited and nine uninhabited islands off Australia's north coast in the Timor Sea.

The islands' Aboriginal population of approximately 2,500 has the highest recorded rates of kidney disease in the world.

"This discovery has big implications for Tiwi Islanders," Jiang said in a media release.

"Their rates are four times the rates of other mainland Indigenous Australians and about 11 times that of non-Indigenous Australians," Jiang said, adding that this mutation is highly prevalent in Tiwi Islanders who have high rates of kidney disease.

Figures from the Australian health authorities suggested that about one in 10 Australian adults show some signs of chronic kidney disease. There were 16,800 CKD-related deaths in Australia in 2018.

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