People living in remote and rural parts of Manitoba may soon have access to an efficient and potentially life-saving kidney disease detector.
Dr. Navdeep Tangri, a University of Manitoba researcher and doctor at Seven Oaks General Hospital’s Chronic Disease Innovation Centre, is teaming up with a group of fellow scientists to fight back against kidney disease with a new, cutting-edge screening machine.
The digital hand-held device measures albumin, a protein found in urine. A healthy kidney will behave like a sieve, filtering out albumin, whereas a diseased kidney will let the material slip by.
"Protein in the urine is the first sign of kidney damage," Tangri said.
The machine’s single-use chip registers a urine sample’s albumin levels with 99 per cent accuracy in five minutes or less. By comparison, under the current system, it can take days for a urine sample to arrive at a lab and undergo testing in Manitoba.
"It was very exciting for us," Tangri said.
This technology’s immediacy significantly pares down the time it takes for health-care providers to uncover disease and create a treatment plan with the patient.
"Anything that streamlines the process of decision-making and provides that quantifiable knowledge to happen more quickly, it’s automatically going to be better for the patients in Manitoba," said Greg Unger, executive director for the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Manitoba branch.
Easy access to the technology will save patients the time and money associated with travelling to an urban centre for renal testing, Unger said.
Tangri, Dr. Francis Lin, Dr. Claudio Rigatto, Dr. Jiandong Wu and Dr. Paul Komenda make up the project’s Manitoba-based scientific development team.
"We hope that (these devices) become available in every doctor’s office or primary-care clinic. We also hope they become widely used for screening in remote, rural and low-income countries," Tangri said.