SYDNEY, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Scientists from Australia's Centenary Institute, in collaboration with researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, have discovered a new virus which causes kidney disease in mice, with hopes that the insight will help in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic and childhood kidney failure.
Kidney disease affects up to 18 percent of adults meaning the discovery, which was published on Friday in prestigious science journal, Cell, could help improve the lives of a vast number of people.
"This breakthrough provides new insight into virally-driven kidney disease, which is a major problem in kidney transplant patients," lead author, Dr Ben Roediger from Centenary's Skin Imaging and Inflammation Laboratory said.
"Furthermore, the virus itself appears to be highly specific to the kidney, which means we can potentially exploit its surface protein to develop gene therapies for inherited childhood kidney disease."
The breakthrough came when researchers noticed that some immune-compromised laboratory mice had died younger than expected, with further investigation showing that the cause of death was kidney failure.
By performing a cutting edge DNA sequencing diagnostic on the mice, the team discovered the presence of a previously indeterminable parvovirus.
"This virus is very widespread and has been affecting laboratory mice for 40 years or more, and we have good reason to suspect that both wild and laboratory mice unwittingly harbour it in their colonies," Roediger said.
However, "it has only been with the advent of new DNA sequencing technologies that we have been able to find it."
Roediger and colleagues are now looking at ways they can translate these findings into clinical practice to improve outcomes for patients with chronic kidney disease.