Our Chief Scientific Officer David Baron, Ph.D. recently attended American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2017. The annual meeting brings together 13,000 kidney professionals across the globe, providing opportunities to exchange knowledge, learn about the latest scientific and medical advances, and listen to engaging discussions with leading experts in the field. Read on for Dr. Baron’s recap of the event:
The American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting, Kidney Week, was held at the New Orleans Convention Center, which is about a mile long – I should have brought my running shoes! Many significant advances and initiatives in the kidney space were highlighted at this premier international meeting.
One highlight was the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease’s Kidney Atlas. This is a growing comprehensive collection of the pathology of all known kidney diseases so that diagnoses of biopsy specimens can be made quickly and accurately. PKD is problematic, however, because biopsies are not usually taken due to the risk of cyst rupture and bleeding.
Another highlight was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Kidney Innovation Accelerator. Every year, 100,000 patients begin dialysis and over 50 percent die within five years. This is a worse prognosis than being newly diagnosed with cancer. The HHS recognizes something must be done. This is a national call to action that has been sorely needed.
I also attended the Summit of Kidney Organizations. We need more surrogate endpoints for clinical trials of chronic kidney disease, including PKD. We are working with the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to make this happen. Kerry Willis, my counterpart at the National Kidney Foundation made a plea for the discovery of more kidney disease biomarkers.
The most exciting and most anticipated moment (at least for me), was Dr. Vicente Torres’ lead talk at the Late Breaking Clinical Trials Outcomes Session. Within an hour of his talk, the article describing his talk in full detail was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. What was the subject of his talk? The REPRISE trial of tolvaptan, which showed a significant effect of slowing the decline of kidney function (eGFR) even in late-stage PKD patients. Although we can’t know for sure until the FDA acts, this to me means it is likely that tolvaptan will be the first drug approved for the treatment of autosomal dominant PKD. Importantly, the PKD Foundation contributed significantly to the discoveries that led to this moment and Dr. Torres took care to note this fact and acknowledged our late co-founder Dr. Jared Grantham.
I was also pleased that biotechnology companies that had previously stayed out of the kidney space are now very interested and I had talks with several of them. I left Kidney Week feeling as optimistic as ever that we are on our way to effective treatments for PKD.