News Release

REF NO.: 60

SUBJECT: A new theory of how much kidney function is enough

DATE: November 10, 2006

An article published today (Nov. 11) in the December issue of the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications proposes a new theory of the need for kidney function. The article relates that researchers working in St. John’s, Toronto and San Diego propose calculating the volume within the body that needs to be cleaned by the kidneys. The first author is Dr. Carl Wesolowski of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Paul Babyn, of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, provided the data. Physicist Dr. Richard Puetter, of the University of California, San Diego, also worked on the new estimate of the need for kidney function.
            Dr. Wesolowski said the research started by looking for a mathematical formula that would allow for better cancer and infection treatment and detect mild renal disease. “Kidney function, itself, can be measured accurately,” he said. “However, an embarrassment for modern medical science is the lack of knowledge of just how much kidney function is needed for different body sizes. Such knowledge is especially important for the medical treatment of children, who increase in body size dramatically as they grow. The most popular current notion relates the need for kidney function to body surface area. Body surface area, in turn, is estimated by calculations developed in the 19th century and modified early in the 20th century.”
            Dr. Wesolowski said the rather surprising results of the team’s research indicate that fractal structures are involved in the need for kidney function. “Fractals show structure on all scales and do not become smooth at higher magnification, “he explained”. Rather fractals, just like branching trees and irregular coastlines, when examined at finer and finer scales show finer and finer detailed structures.”
            While it is one thing to suspect that body surface area is not a good indicator of the rate of urine creation, Dr. Wesolowski said, “it is somewhat harder to present actual evidence as we do. Our work suggests that there is no functional relationship between body surface area and kidney function but rather that fractal structures are involved. Our hope is that our new method for calculating the need for kidney function will reduce drug side effects and inappropriate drug dosage in the treatment of cancer and infection, as well as allowing detection of mild kidney disease without the need for a biopsy. Only time and testing of our theory by other researchers will determine if we have succeeded.”
            This material was also presented at the November 2006 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, Medical Imaging Conference. The IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., is the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

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