By Peter Stevenson
ONE in ten Cypriots, or 80,000 people, will suffer from a kidney disorder in the future but early diagnosis is the key to sustaining patients’ quality of life according to the findings of recent renal research.
Presenting the findings at a conference yesterday were Health Minister Petros Petrides, head of the Research Centre for Molecular Medicine and University of Cyprus Professor Constantinos Deltas, head of the Society of Nephrology and director of the Nephrology Clinic Michael Zavros, and nephrologist and former director of nephrology at Nicosia General Hospital Alkis Pierides.
Deltas said that his team has been working on hereditary kidney diseases for the last 22 years and has had articles published in international magazines. The research centre is a reference point for Cyprus and Greece, he added.
A large portion of the population suffers from some form of hereditary kidney disease and up to 10 per cent of adults have some degree of renal insufficiency, either hereditary or other, Deltas said.
Speaking about a “distressing Cypriot privilege”, Deltas said that there is an inherited form of kidney disease (C3) and a specific genetic disorder that exists only in Cyprus and is responsible for more than 150 cases in 23 families. He explained that it began in villages in the Marathasa region about 400 years ago and appears in childhood as blood in urine, causing 40 per cent of male patients to end up on dialysis before they are 70 years old.
He stressed the need for early diagnosis, saying that along with prognosis “we predict that it will save many kidneys and will reduce over time the pressing need for kidney transplants”.
Zavros said that early diagnosis and proper regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure are very important factors, as is the regulation of cholesterol and attention to taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
He said it is alarming that chronic kidney disease is becoming a huge epidemiological problem with 17 per cent of the population possibly suffering kidney disease while 70 per cent of people do not show symptoms of the disease.
“Renal disease is rampant and is becoming an epidemic on a global scale so there is a need for continuing research on kidney disease to tackle this problem radically in its entirety,” he said.
Pierides said that on March 28 and 29 a scientific – educational conference on immune renal diseases and hereditary kidney disease, with the participation of 14 foreign renowned scientists will take place for the first time in Cyprus.
The health minister said that the research findings in Cyprus have a worldwide reach and assured experts that the ministry would support their work.
“This research is proof of the successful cooperation between the Research Centre for Molecular Medicine, the University of Cyprus and the Department of Nephrology of public hospitals as well as private doctors,” he said.
Petrides said that the research centre’s goal, which was established in 2010, is to record within the bio-bank hereditary kidney diseases with a view to continuing research in the field of kidney disease and also the best and early diagnosis and treatment of each patient on a personal level.
“Cypriot citizens will benefit greatly from this collaborative work and they should be proud of it,” he said.