BAR HARBOR, MAINE — The increased prevalence of diabetes is causing an epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD) that is creating a huge burden on patients, families and the healthcare system. Indeed, the federal government spends more on kidney dialysis than on NASA, the Department of Energy or the National Institutes of Health.
In 2015, the latest year for which statistics are available, Medicare spent $34 billion on the procedure to mechanically cleanse the blood of patients whose kidneys have failed — more than that year’s budgets for any of these federal agencies. This enormous healthcare burden is driving initiatives to develop new therapies.
Diabetic kidney disease and its implications for public health will be the subject of a Feb. 11 MDI Science Café entitled “Chronic Kidney Disease: The Hidden Danger of Diabetes” by Hermann Haller, M.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory and a renowned nephrologist, or kidney specialist.
The MDI Biological Laboratory-sponsored event will be held at 5 p.m. at the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation on the institution’s campus at 159 Old Bar Harbor Road in Bar Harbor.
Haller will discuss diabetes as a risk factor for CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD); current treatments options; recent advances, including the contributions of the MDI Biological Laboratory; and efforts to address the limitations of current therapies — dialysis and kidney transplant — through the development of artificial organs.
About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes eventually will suffer from kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Because the signs of CKD are so subtle, it often goes undiagnosed until it reaches advanced stages.
“The limited treatment options for chronic kidney disease take a huge toll on patients and their families,” Haller said. “Dialysis is expensive and time-consuming, and transplants are only available to those fortunate enough to receive donor organs. Thankfully, science is making genuine progress in developing new therapies.”
Thirty million adult Americans (15 percent of the adult population) have CDK, according to the DHS. Of these, 680,000 are on dialysis, and tens of thousands are on the waiting list to receive a transplant. The increased incidence of CKD is being driven by the prevalence of diabetes, which is at an all-time high in the United States.
While Maine has a lower-than-average incidence of diabetes, ranking 31st among the 50 states, the disease still exacts an enormous toll. The cost of diabetes in Maine is estimated at $1.6 billion annually and it accounted for about 43 percent of new cases of ESRD in 2008, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the institution’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science. Short presentations delivered in everyday language are followed by lively, informal discussion.
For more information, please visit mdibl.org/events/ or call 207-288-3147.
About the MDI Biological Laboratory
We are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on developing drugs that slow age-related degenerative diseases and activate our natural ability to heal. Our unique approach has identified potential therapies that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease, muscular dystrophy and more. Through the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, we are preparing students for 21st century careers and equipping entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to turn discoveries into applications that improve human health and well-being. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.