Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects over 37 million Americans–that’s 1 in 7 adults. Testing for CKD is available, but current tests can only diagnose the disease or measure its progression–not determine an individual’s genetic risk for developing it in the future. Furthermore, conventional CKD tests provide only limited insights on the disease, making developing a treatment plan difficult.
Genetic testing for CKD is certainly needed. A 2019 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 9.3 percent of CKD patients had some sort of genetic component which caused their disease. Importantly, pinpointing these genetic factors altered the course of treatment in 89% of the patients.
A new genetic test developed in 2020 called Renasight aims to transform the way CKD is diagnosed and managed.
What is Renasight?
Renasight, developed by California-based genetic testing company Natera, takes a new approach to detecting CKD. While conventional testing typically measures kidney function to determine the extent of kidney damage, Renasight tests an individual’s genes to diagnose the exact cause of CKD or, in a patient without the disease, their hereditary risk for it. Furthermore, Renasight can also deliver insights on other similar, inherited conditions such as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Alport syndrome, and Fabry disease.
How does Renasight work?
The test itself involves analyzing 385 genes associated with CKD to diagnose the underlying cause of the disease, risk of progression, hereditary risk for family members without CKD, and other related conditions, if any are detected.
If you and your doctor have decided on a Renasight test, you’ll first need to submit a blood or saliva sample and send it in for analysis. After three weeks, you’ll receive your results.
After receiving your test results, you’ll be able to develop a personalized treatment plan together with your physician. Renasight’s comprehensive insights allow for more accuracy in building a treatment plan, such as finding the exact medication that would help slow progression of your CKD or referring you to a specialist who would be better equipped to treat you.
Finally, if the test indicates that one of your family members may be at risk for CKD, your doctor can help them prevent CKD in the future by advising them on healthy lifestyle choices and scheduling regular screening for the disease.
How much does it cost?
The exact cost of the Renasight test varies based on the patient’s insurance, but Natera accepts all insurance plans and offers flexible payment options if needed. In addition, lower-income patients are eligible for Natera’s “Compassionate Care Program” which sets the cost of testing between $0-$149.
CKD can be a serious and potentially fatal condition, but new advances in testing are helping to make living with CKD less of a struggle. Genetic testing panels like Renasight may just be the next step in the fight against this devastating disease.
Written by Natan Rosenfeld