Recent initiatives related to funding and infrastructure development are expected to contribute substantially to the improvement of healthcare and the lessening of the need for kidney transplants among the Qatari population, according to Dr Constantinos Deltas, professor of Genetics at Qatar University College of Medicine (QU-CMED).
In a statement issued ahead of World Kidney Day, which will be observed today (second Thursday of March), Dr Deltas said this year’s theme is women and their increased risk to chronic kidney disease (CKD).
According to epidemiological studies, the prevalence of CKD among women is 14% and among men 12%, “quite evidently very high for both genders”. There are conditions that preferably affect women much more frequently, with lupus nephritis being an exemplar cause of CKD in women, he points out.
“We would like to stress that the Qatari population could not escape these epidemiological risks. Unfortunately, however, there is as yet no solid data regarding the prevalence of the various causes of CKD among Qataris and expatriates in the population. It is anticipated that owing to a high rate of consanguineous marriages, genetic causes of kidney failure have been established among Qataris during the previous hundreds or even thousands of years. Proper genetic studies have only marginally been performed until today and therefore no hard data are available,” he noted.
In recent years, genuine efforts have been made aimed at enhancing genetics and genomics studies, which are among the four priorities of the Qatar National Research Foundation for competitive research funding. Another hallmark development that is going to support significantly genomics studies for several genetically determined conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, cancer and kidney disorders, is the creation of a state-of-the-art biobank in Qatar.
“The Qatar Biobank is an excellent medical research infrastructure, which is destined to promote and motivate a new generation of researchers to take advantage of the material archived and launch innovative studies aimed at improving human health,” Dr Deltas added.
With this in mind, faculty and researchers at the newly created CMED have been funded recently for launching a pilot project aimed at investigating material and data available through the Qatar Biobank, for genetic and other causes of microscopic hematuria.
A collaboration of researchers, both clinicians and geneticists at the CMED, Hamad General Hospital and Sidra Medicine, have joined forces and formed a consortium to start what is perhaps the first systematic study of genetic causes of chronic kidney disease. All partners involved are enthusiastic about these prospects and determined to succeed in this project, while reaching out together for additional funding to develop many more research studies, also providing opportunities for career development to younger Qatari doctors and scientists.
“In conclusion, recent funding and infrastructure developments in Qatar, including the Qatar Biobank and the Qatar University College of Medicine have created new hopes and advanced the prospects for studying kidney disorders. In a few years, all these efforts are expected to have contributed substantially to the improvement of healthcare and the lessening of the need for kidney transplants in the Qatari population,” he added.
World Kidney Day is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of kidneys.