NKF Research Spotlight:

Dr. Sahir Kalim studies dialysis and other therapies that could better replicate natural kidney function

Dr ZhouDialysis has saved countless lives around the world, but researchers believe we have yet to unlock dialysis’ full potential.

Dr. Sahir Kalim, a nephrologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has dedicated his career to discovering ways to improve the lives of those with kidney failure, and finding therapies that will better replicate natural kidney function.

“Typically, routine hemodialysis only replaces a small fraction of normal kidney function, leaving some patients with an overload of metabolites which can contribute to adverse health effects,” Dr. Kalim said. “Additionally, end stage kidney disease and dialysis itself can deplete patients of essential nutrients such as amino acids, further exacerbating poor health.”

Supported by a Young Investigator Grant from the National Kidney Foundation, Dr. Kalim is investigating amino acid supplementation in dialysis patients.

Currently, some patients who cannot take food through their GI tracts receive amino acid solutions intravenously for nutrition. Dr. Kalim is studying whether similar amino acid solutions will be a benefit to others on dialysis.

“By receiving an amino acid supplement on dialysis, people may experience improvements in their health,” Dr. Kalim said. “They may also feel better and could live longer lives.”

Dr. Kalim plans to publish preliminary results of his study in 2014. His hope is that these results could lead to larger studies that can have a direct impact on clinical practice.

After publishing his work, Dr. Kalim will continue to investigate therapies that could better the lives of those on dialysis, focusing on metabolic imbalances that contribute to complications in kidney patients.

“I hope to continue determining which nutrient losses or toxin buildups are most important in dialysis patients, and how we can fix these imbalances to improve health,” he said. “I also hope in the future we get better at slowing the progression of kidney diseases and improve dialysis to better simulate native kidney function.”