Cutting-edge Research Unveiled at NKF’s Annual Professional Meeting

Late-breaking presentations shared before thousands at virtual NKF’s 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings 

April 7, 2021—New York, NY — Today, before the National Kidney Foundation’s 2021 Spring Clinicals Meetings of thousands of kidney health professionals, hundreds of studies from the last year were presented including three studies considered “late-breaking” research papers.

The presentations were made at the virtual presentation at the annual Spring Clinical Meetings, which was held virtually for the second year due to COVID-19 restriction. The event is a chance for investigators to share their findings with professionals who attend the conference, which is one of the most respected gatherings of kidney professionals in the United States. 

The late-breaking research presented today included a study of RenalytixAI’s new prognostic blood test that will make it easier to diagnosis early kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes; a study that demonstrated the safety and tolerability of Metformin as a potential therapeutic intervention in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease; and a study that shows that patients on dialysis are more willing than the general population to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.

Clinical Utility of a New Prognostic Test to Predict the Risk of Kidney Function Decline in Diabetic Kidney Disease Patients” 

Early diagnosis of comorbidities is critical for people with type 2 diabetes to ensure the best outcome and to help slow progression of dangerous kidney disease. The RenalytixAI’s test would lead to earlier diagnosis over the current tests of albuminuria and eGFR and help clinicians to understand the risk of progression and make treatment decisions for patients with early-stage diabetic kidney disease (DKD), the study found.

“In today’s world where comorbidities associated with diabetes are on the rise, if a simple test can enable early intervention to prevent progression of kidney disease, patients and physicians can be more confident about their treatment plans,” said lead investigator Manasi Datar, PhD, Director at Boston Healthcare Associates, who made the presentation. “Since our study found that the results from this test are more important than current tests for physicians to make treatment decisions in their patients, putting this test in the hands of primary care physicians should be priority, as it would positively impact patient management.”

The new blood test detects early-stage DKD before clinical symptoms appear so early intervention can optimize treatment decisions, including medications that can protect patients’ kidneys and help them manage diabetes.

A Randomized Trial of Administration of Metformin in PKD (TAME PKD)

Presented by Ronald D. Perrone, MD, Tufts Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and Nephrologist and Scientific Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center at Tufts Medical Center, the study is an exciting development for people with ADPKD and the first steps toward a larger clinical trial evaluating efficacy and safety.

“Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is the most common hereditary kidney disease and the 4th leading cause of end-stage kidney disease,” Dr. Perrone said. “Demonstration of the safety and tolerability of metformin in participants with PKD and GFR >50 ml/min is the initial step in further development of this potential treatment for PKD.” Dr. Perrone noted that the next steps in this research are to look at a larger intervention trial enriched for those at high risk of rapid progress of the disease. 

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Acceptability in Patients on Dialysis: A Nationwide Survey

The study was presented by investigator Pablo Garcia, MD, Clinical and research fellow in nephrology at Stanford University School of Medicine and American Kidney Fund Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Fellow.

“This is good news for the ability to reach high levels of COVID-19 vaccination in patients on dialysis, because patients on dialysis have higher risk for death or hospitalization from the virus,” Dr. Garcia said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented multiple challenges and has disproportionately affected patients on dialysis,” he said. “At the moment we are lucky to have effective vaccination for COVID-19 — it is the best preventive strategy available in the world. We as healthcare providers should do our best to facilitate information about the vaccines.”Overall, the research showed that 80 percent of patients on dialysis were willing to get COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine acceptability was lower among women, younger (18-44 year) age groups, and among Blacks, and Native Americans and Pacific Islanders — up to 30 percent of patients in these groups were vaccine hesitant.       

“Missing Care: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on CKD Care Delivery”

Presented by Clarissa Jonas Diamantidis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Senior Clinical Fellow in Nephrology, United Health Research and Development, this study discovered that during the COVID-19 crisis patients with kidney disease did not maintain their medical care as much as they had prior to the pandemic.

The sheer amount of reduction in chronic kidney disease (CKD) care across provider encounters, medication coverage, and lab monitoring, was surprising to the study investigators, but this outcome also presents an opportunity.

“Disruptions in care during the COVID-19 pandemic allows us to take a step back and critically evaluate the value and impact of the CKD care we traditionally provide,” Dr. Diamantidis said. 

However, Dr. Diamantidis wants patients to know that there may be long-term consequences to the disruptions on CKD care during the pandemic and patients should not skip care.

According to Dr. Diamantidis, increased use of telehealth compensated only partially for the deficit in visits they uncovered. The downstream impact of CKD care reduction on health outcomes, such as hospitalizations or dialysis preparedness, requires further study, as does evaluation of which care delivery models are most effective for CKD populations.

The presentation session was chaired by NKF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Vassalotti, MD.

NKF Spring Clinical Meetings 

For the past 29 years, nephrology healthcare professionals from across the country have come to NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings to learn about the newest developments related to all aspects of nephrology practice; network with colleagues; and present their research findings. The NKF Spring Clinical Meetings are designed for meaningful change in the multidisciplinary healthcare teams’ skills, performance, and patient health outcomes. It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on translating science into practice for the entire healthcare team.  This year’s Spring Clinical Meetings will be held virtually April 6-10.  

NKF Professional Membership 

Healthcare professionals can join NKF to receive access to tools and resources for both patients and professionals, discounts on professional education, and access to a network of thousands of individuals who treat patients with kidney disease.     

Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 adults in the U.S. is at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People who are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are almost 4 times more likely than Whites to have kidney failure. Hispanic or Latino people are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanic or non-Latino people to have kidney failure.

About the National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit