Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinic targets disease in children

Clinic targets disease in children
By KAWANZA NEWSONknewson@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Feb. 17, 2008
New parents often spend the first year of their child's life anticipating milestones such as smiling, babbling and rolling over onto their tummies.
But for Jennifer and Jeff Roubik, those moments never came.
Instead, their son lay listless. His skin was tinted gray as his kidney function rapidly deteriorated from a genetic disorder called autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.
At 3 months, Gabriel had one kidney removed. A month later, he lost his second kidney and began dialysis.
Each day, his parents wondered if their son would make it to his first birthday.
"Those thoughts kept coming in," said Jeff, 37, of Elkhorn. "He also had heart problems because his blood pressure was out of control. Things were not pretty."
Though researchers still don't understand what causes most pediatric kidney disorders, the opening of a nephrology clinic and lab at the Children's Research Institute affiliated with Children's Hospital in Wauwatosa will soon provide some answers.
Using a $4.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, a group of Medical College of Wisconsin researchers will design studies to better understand the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with pediatric kidney disease so they can develop therapies to prevent and treat the condition.
This work will then be quickly translated into clinical trials using childhood kidney disease patients.
"This is a very exciting time," said Ellis D. Avner, director of the Children's Research Institute and associate dean of research at the Medical College.
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