• By Dana Sparks

Discovery’s Edge: Moments of Discovery

June 21, 2016

a medical illustration of granulomatosis with polyangiitis

Curiosity, unconventional thinking, and random chance drive research into new drugs for the treatment of kidney disease.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis—yes, it’s a mouthful. It’s also a rare disease, afflicting as few as two in 100,000 people. It’s so uncommon a general practitioner might not recognize it. Says Fernando C. Fervenza, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist. “A lot of physicians down in the community are probably going to see one case in their lifetime.”

But granulomatosis can be deadly. The body’s immune system attacks itself, causing inflammation of small blood vessels, a condition known as vasculitis. And vasculitis can damage sinuses, lungs, kidneys, eyes, ears, skin, nerves, and joints. Until the 1960s “basically it was fatal,” says Dr. Fervenza, who is often called in on such cases when vasculitis inflames the millions of vessels that populate the kidneys. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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