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Dr. Allison Dart, MD, MSC, FRCPC, a Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba researcher and Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, is working to help youth overcome kidney failure.
Currently Dr. Dart, a CBC Manitoba Future 40 finalist, is leading a study that aims to identify the most important risk factors connected to early kidney disease in youth with Type 2 diabetes. Since Type 2 diabetes is a relatively new disease in youth, there isn’t a lot known about the factors that lead to kidney failure.
The project is entitled Improving renal Complications in Adolescents with Type 2 diabetes through REsearch (iCARE) cohort study. Currently there are 162 youth from Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario enrolled in the study, however, Dr. Dart and her team are hoping to enrol up to 400 if they receive additional funding to expand iCARE into a national study.
“We’re trying to decrease dialysis in kids with Type 2 diabetes. They’re reaching end stage kidney failure in their mid-30s at which time they need dialysis or a transplant. They seem to have a more rapid progression,” said Dr. Dart, who is also part of the Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM) research team based at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.
“This is a high risk group of kids who have adult complications in childhood. The risk factors linked with kidney failure in adults do not explain what we are seeing in youth. This study is using state of the art testing to measure traditional things like blood sugar control, blood pressure, and kidney filtration to more accurately assess if they contribute to kidney disease in youth. We are also testing links with stress and mental distress, which we think are also important in this disease, potentially because they increase inflammation in the body.”
iCARE participants take part in a full day of testing once a year that includes blood and urine tests, a formal test of their kidney function, a 24-hour blood pressure monitor and an ultrasound of their kidneys. They complete questionnaires that help researchers determine their stress levels. They also supply a hair sample so that the stress hormone cortisol can be measured directly by a lab in London, Ontario.
“There has been a good response from participants, and they enjoy being a part of the study. They want to help advance the knowledge in this area and they are by being part of this,” Dr. Dart said.
Working with other members of her research team, Dr. Dart is preparing to publish the initial results soon and hopes to expand the study to 7 other sites across Canada.
“As a kidney specialist, I see these kids in clinic with established kidney disease and don’t have good data to know how to best treat them. As a clinician this is frustrating. We started this study to gain a better understanding of what’s causing complications. This knowledge will then lead to target treatments to prevent or delay kidney disease,” she said.