In a bid to diagnose and treat renal diseases early and more successfully, researchers from nine European countries have spent four-and-a half years to create a three-dimensional virtual "Kidney Atlas", which incorporates the latest research findings on the development and diseases of the kidney.
The Kidney Atlas was part of the European Renal Genome Project (EuReGene), coordinated by the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, which the European Union (EU) funded with more than 10 million euros.
Renal disease not only affects the elderly because of hypertension and diabetes, but also targets children, who are often born with congenital renal anomalies.
Particularly, the increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes has caused a rise in the number of renal patients.
While the primary aim of the Kidney Atlas is to map genes that play a key role in renal diseases, it also contains other data, for example on anatomy.
The Kidney Atlas, primarily directed towards both basic researchers and clinicians, also contains information for the general public.
The Atlas is based upon various Genome Projects, and the scientists involved in its creation were pathologists, developmental and molecular biologists as well as geneticists from 14 research groups from non-university institutions, universities and six university clinics.
Project coordinator, Professor Thomas Willnow (MDC), has said that the Kidney Atlas will also be of great significance for the research of metabolic disorders, which lead to kidney damage such as diabetes.
The Kidney Atlas was presented at MDC during a two-day symposium, which was attended by approximately 100 researchers.