Trial uses water as treatment for polycystic kidney disease

Researchers from Westmead Hospital and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia are developing a safe, cheap and effective method to treat polycystic kidney disease; drinking the right amount of water.

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The team conducted clinical trials to test if drinking the right amount of water could help treat this deadly kidney disease before it progresses to kidney failure. The outline of the clinical trial and its methodology has been published in the journal BMJ Open, and the final results will be published at a later date once the study is concluded.

The trial, called PREVENT-ADPKD, is the work of a team including Dr Annette Wong, Professor David Harris, Carly Mannix, and Dr Gopi Rangan from the Westmead Hospital carried out the trial named PREVENT-ADPKD, to see if water intake could reduce the cyst formations in the kidneys that further lead to their damage.

Dr Rangan explained that water stops the hormone that enables cyst growth, so it is crucial to ensure you aren’t thirsty. He added that one of the greatest challenges of treatment of ADPKD is that it is incurable.

Over half of the patients eventually go on to develop kidney failure that necessitates regular dialysis and kidney transplantation. If this trial shows encouraging results, Dr Rangan believes many ADPKD patients could benefit to a great extent. Adequate water intake may stop the progression of the kidney damage before it leads to kidney failure. Water is a “cheap, safe and effective treatment,” he said.

The team had previously conducted animal studies where they showed that increased water intake can reduce the cyst growth in animals who have been induced to develop kidney cysts. This would be the first study to demonstrate how water intake helped humans with ADPKD.

The trial , which would take three years to complete, would be a randomized clinical trial and MRI imaging would be used to assess the rates at which these cysts grow in the kidneys. Over 240 patients have enrolled in the study and the results are expected by 2020.

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetically inherited condition where hundreds of small cysts or fluid filled sacs grow in healthy kidney tissues. These cysts eventually cover all of the healthy tissues and destroy the kidney reducing its functionality.

These cysts appear during childhood and grow in numbers yearly by 5 to 10 percent. One in 2500 people suffer from PKD and this makes PKD one of the most common genetically inherited kidney diseases. These patients eventually require dialysis for regular functioning and a kidney transplant finally for survival.

Ananya Mandal

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Ananya Mandal

Ananya is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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