Building a network to investigate CKD risk factors in Africa
It is well-established that African Americans are more than three times as likely to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) than non-Hispanic white Americans. Research also shows that Black people living in sub-Saharan Africa have a similarly high predisposition to developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).
“This increased risk of CKD is attributable in part to variants of the APOL1 gene called G1 and G2,” says Dr. Dwomoa Adu, a consultant nephrologist based at the University of Ghana Medical School in Accra.
These variants of APOL1 confer resistance to the Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense infection, a potentially fatal form of sleeping sickness transmitted by tsetse flies in parts of Africa.
Dr. Adu continues: “This resistance to fatal sleeping sickness has led to a selective advantage for individuals with the variant APOL1 genes in regions of Africa where sleeping sickness was endemic, leading to a high prevalence of the G1 and G2 variants in Black African people and those of African descent.”
Dr. Adu is co-principal investigator on the Human Hereditary and Health Africa Kidney Disease Research Network (H3A-KDRN), a consortium of 16 academic medical centers in five African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, and Tanzania), nine academic institutions in North America, and one in Israel, funded by NHGRI and NIDDK. It is part of the H3Africa Consortium, which was established in 2012 by the USA National Institutes of Health, the UK Wellcome Trust, and the African Society of Human Genetics to study the genetic basis of disease in Africa.
In his presentation at WCN’21, Dr. Adu will discuss the Network’s aims and its progress so far. Alongside investigating the APOL1 gene variants, H3A-KDRN has been working to create the infrastructure needed to enable genomic research to flourish in Africa.
Dr. Adu concludes: “We have established a platform to allow clinical, genomic, and translational studies to help us understand the causes of CKD in African people, and this will hopefully lead to improvements in treatment.”
Dr. Dwomoa Adu: “H3Africa project,” Theme Symposium, Building a research network, Monday 19 April, 11:00-12:00 hrs Montréal (Canada) time.