A Call to Modernize Kidney Toxicity Assessments

By Michelle Werts posted 03-26-2014 15:38


599_9099cropped.jpgHeading into Tuesday morning’s award lecture, I overhead a few attendees say they were looking forward to the imminent session, calling the presenter “a rising star” in the field. They were referring to the 2014 SOT Leading Edge in Basic Science Award winner Vishal S. Vaidya, who was recognized for his research into kidney injury biomarkers, which, fittingly, were the topic of his lecture titled “A Two-Pronged Approach to Modernize Toxicology.”

Why modernize kidney toxicity assessment? Dr. Vaidya relates that more than 90,000 people die each year from kidney disease with kidney disease treatment accounting for $41 billion in healthcare costs.

One of the keys to modernizing assessments, according to Dr. Vaidya, is collaborative, comprehensive studies. He described how for one of his projects into predictive safety testing, a consortium was formed that included 15 pharmaceutical companies, two biotechnology firms, four academic institutions, the Critical Path Institute, the US FDA, and the European Medical Academy. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration was emphasized repeatedly by Dr. Vaidya for improved, more efficient results.

Dr. Vaidya’s research has centered on three kidney injury biomarkers: the kidney injury molecule (KIM-1) and what the doctor refers to as the KIM’s Friend (aka fibrinogen) and new KIM (a panel of microRNAs). His research shows that urinary fibrinogen can serve as a sensitive translational biomarker for efficacy as well as safety studies related to kidney damage.

Ultimately, Dr. Vaidya believes that a translational panel of biomarkers has the potential to transform safety assessment. In addition, he says that multidimensional predictive toxicity signatures can help us screen markers earlier in the process.