• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Innovative research to fight kidney disease

December 21, 2017

More than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease. It’s often referred to as the silent killer, because, in early stages of the disease, there are no symptoms. Chronic kidney disease can go undetected until it’s advanced.

Dr. LaTonya Hickson, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist and researcher, is working to slow down the disease progression of one of the most common causes of kidney failure: diabetic kidney disease. Dr. Hickson says Mayo Clinic is one of the main groups investigating stem cells to see if they are able to help repair the kidney, particularly in chronic kidney disease.

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When chronic kidney disease advances, there are often three options: dialysis, kidney transplantation or conservative management. New research being done in regenerative medicine at Mayo Clinic using adult stem cells may slow the disease progression for one of the most common causes of kidney failure: diabetic kidney disease.

"They're called mesenchymal stromal cells, and those cells have the capacity to go into our body, tell our bodies to wake up and start doing the healing process," says Dr. Hickson.

Dr. Hickson says the hope is to slow down the rate of kidney disease failure.

"If someone was rapidly losing their kidney function, we don't think that we're going to be able to completely halt it, but, maybe, if we could slow the speed or the rate of their kidney failure, that could offer them plenty of time without needing dialysis and more time to be healthy," says Dr. Hickson.

Dr. Hickson says more research is being done each day to advance treatment and make life better for those with kidney disease.

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