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million Americans have chronic (delete end-stage) kidney disease. About
500,000 of them have end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), as DO 5,000
Israelis. African- and Hispanic Americans have a double-to-quadruple
risk for the fatal disorder, compared to Caucasians of European origin.
an Israeli research team has discovered new genetic data on a DNA
region that could predict who will develop the disease, and eventually
help millions of people of African ancestry, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
So far, the only ways to prolong their lives are undergoing dialysis a few times a week or getting a kidney transplant.
team, headed by Prof. Karl Skorecki – a nephrologist (kidney expert) at
the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Medical Faculty
and director of medical and research development at Haifa’s Rambam
Medical Center – has just published a paper on the subject in the
online edition of the prestigious journal Human Molecular Genetics; it will appear in the print edition in a few weeks.
team’s findings so far, said Skorecki, can already advance the use of
early genetic screening for people at high risk for the disorder so it
can be prevented. Future comparative genetic research could help
identify the specific mutation responsible for ESKD and provide a
better understanding of what mechanism causes irreversible damage to
the kidneys’ glomeruli (which filter out the toxins from the blood) –
even leading to new medical treatments.
autodidactic genetic researcher, became known worldwide over a decade
ago when he showed that Jewish men who had been told by their fathers
that they were of the priestly tribe shared the same type array of six
chromosomal markers in their Y chromosomes. These patrilineal markers
were found in both Sephardi and Ashkenazi kohanim, pointing to a common
priestly tribe population origin before the Diaspora during the Roman
A year ago, two US research groups identified on
Chromosome 22 a gene called MYH9, which has mutations that explain the
high prevalence of ESKD among African-Americans (1,010 per million,
compared with 520 per million among Hispanics and only 279 per million
among whites of European origin).
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The Skorecki team – which
included Dr. Doron Behar and colleagues from Rambam, Tel Aviv
University, Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem
and the US National Institutes of Health – went further and discovered
important new genetic data that explained the high prevalence of the
kidney disease among people of African origin. They also realized that
Hispanic Americans, who have a combination of Central African, European
and Native American ancestry, are therefore also at higher risk, but
not as high as African-Americans, who have mostly genes of Central
African origin. About 30 percent of the global genetic ancestry among
Hispanic Americans could be attributed to the African genetic
component, they wrote.
Skorecki told the Post on
Thursday that his team had previously found that Ethiopian Jews did not
share the higher risk for the disease, thus hinting that they might not
have the Central African DNA makeup that predisposes people to ESKD.
The team is now testing this in Ethiopia and Israel.
researchers had found no influence of socioeconomic conditions in
causing ESKD to break out, the Skorecki team decided to look at genetic
factors. They examined the genomes of 1,425 African- and Hispanic
(Puerto Rican, Dominican and other) American adults treated in dialysis
and ambulatory clinics in New York City and compared them with a
control group of mostly healthy but elderly black and Hispanic
Americans living in nursing homes, who were past the age of developing
ESKD. These people were descendants of the 12 million African slaves
brought to North America hundreds of years ago.
Skorecki told the Post
that he had been in touch with representatives of the Negev’s
non-Jewish community of Black Hebrews, who came here decades ago from
the US. The Black Hebrews – whose ancestry is 85% African and the rest
European – will come to see him in Haifa so he can check whether they
also have the African risk variants. They claim to be healthy and not
to suffer from a significant amount of kidney disease.
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