Around 20 genes that could help explain the causes of kidney disease have been discovered by an international team of researchers.
The team, including Edinburgh University researchers, found that the genes help to control vital kidney functions, such as filtering waste substances from the blood.
The findings could offer insights into what goes wrong in patients with kidney failure.
The researchers said that identifying the genes that control kidney function was an important step in developing new treatments for chronic kidney disease.
The team studied the genes of nearly 70,000 people across Europe and identified 13 new genes that influence renal function and seven other genes that affect the production and secretion of creatinine - a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism and filtered through the kidneys.
The findings could allow for the creation of new drugs to restore kidney function in people with chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
"The discovery of these 20 new genes is another example of how large collaborative genome wide association meta-analyses can open up the black box of disease mechanism, in this case kidney function," the Scotsman quoted Dr Jim Wilson, a Royal Society research fellow at Edinburgh University, as saying.
"These deeper functional insights are the first steps to developing new treatments for chronic kidney disease," Wilson added.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.