Dec. 27 (UPI) -- About 10 percent of all cases of chronic kidney disease come from genetic causes, a new study says.
The research, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined DNA sequencing in more than 3,300 people with varying degrees of chronic or end-stage kidney disease.
Genetic disorders caused kidney problems in about 9 percent of the study participants. Also, DNA testing found another category for the cause of kidney disease in about 20 percent of the participants and it helped with diagnosing a cause for the condition in 17 percent of people who had previously gone undiagnosed.
"There are multiple genetic causes of chronic kidney disease, and treatment can vary depending on the cause," Ali Gharavi, chief of nephrology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and study co-senior author, said in a news release. "And because kidney disease is often silent in the early stages, some patients aren't diagnosed until their kidneys are close to failing, making it more difficult to find the underlying cause."
The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 14 percent of Americans have chronic kidney disease, whose main causes are high blood pressure and diabetes. Yet, for 15 percent of patients with chronic kidney disease, the underlying cause of kidney failure is unknown, according to the study.
"Our study identifies chronic kidney disease as the most common adult disease, outside of cancer, for which genomic testing has been demonstrated as clinically essential," said David Goldstein, director of Columbia University's Institute for Genomic Medicine and a co-senior author of the study.
The researchers said DNA results helped 85 percent of the people who were diagnosed genetically and had medical records already on hand. It allowed the researchers to consider and avoid certain clinical strategies based on potential treatment complications for each patient.
However, the researchers warn that genetic testing should be balanced with traditional clinical testing methods. A study from January showed DNA testing in healthy people greatly overstated the likelihood of genetic conditions linked to kidney disease.
Still, DNA testing brings a new strategy to fight the growing problem of kidney disease in the United States.
Using DNA testing can help pinpoint who develops kidney disease through genetic causes versus lifestyle choices, which can help doctors to provide better treatment options.
"These results suggest that genomic sequencing can optimize the development of new medicines for kidney disease through the selection of patient subgroups most likely to benefit from new therapies," says Adam Platt, Head of Global Genomics Portfolio at AstraZeneca and study co-senior author.