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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Cell-Specific Biomarkers in Renal Medicine

Histopathology is the gold standard for defining renal injury, but it is invasive, timeconsuming and expensive, plus it is seldom used in subjects with mild renal injury. Using biomarkers linked to distinct, defined cell types and tissues provides a direct link to histopathology without its drawbacks, and provides increased sensitivity and specificity. The nephron consists of several sections, each with its own specific biomarkers; therefore, through the use of a battery of tests, injuries can be localised to distinct areas.

Cell-specific biomarkers have been known about for over 40 years, but they are still underused in renal medicine and research. In particular, there are few studies where they have been used to guide therapy or been linked to quantitative changes in the kidney. This article will discuss how using biomarkers with a known cellular origin may help renal effects to be found earlier and at lower levels of injury. Their potential uses in renal medicine and clinical research will then be presented.

Renal diseases are an expanding problem; half a million Americans could be on dialysis in 2010 at a cost of $46 billion dollars a year (1). Even so, renal injury may be an under-recognised problem due in part to the ability of the kidneys to regenerate, as well as their great reserve capacity. The most common test of renal function is serum creatinine.


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Martin Shaw is Senior Scientific Officer at Biotrin International. At Biotrin, Martin has been involved in the development and application of a series of novel renal and hepatic biomarkers. Particular emphasis has been on the development and use of novel biomarkers in drug discovery and development.
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Martin Shaw
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