Researchers from 22 European countries have set up PARENCHIMA, a network with the objective to meet the urgent need for better biomarkers to support the development of effective treatment for CKD. MR Imaging biomarkers have shown a high potential to help fill this gap as they are non-invasive and sensitive to CKD pathophysiology.
The rising prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) poses a major public health challenge affecting >10% of the population. The field has not seen a truly new therapy in over 15 years, and an alarming number of large recent CKD progression trials have failed. To overcome this challenge, there is an urgent need for better biomarkers to identify patients that are at risk of progression, or are likely to respond to candidate therapeutics. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) biomarkers have shown a high potential to help fill this gap as they are non-invasive and sensitive to CKD pathophysiology.
For the next four years, the PARENCHIMA initiative will join forces to define international standards for measuring MRI biomarkers, and develop user-friendly, open-access tools and databases to share these standards with others, for both drug development and clinical practice.
About MRI biomarkers
MRI biomarkers are safe and non-invasive, and unlike blood- or urine tests, MRI directly examines the organ itself in high detail. In recent years, MRI biomarkers have been able to detect key early signs of the disease such as renal enlargement, reduced blood flow and oxygen reserve, or changes in kidney structure. These biomarkers have the potential to detect ineffective treatments early on, identify the patients most likely to benefit from treatment, or those that are responding well to an intervention. This can massively improve the efficacy of drug development and patient care.
Renal MRI biomarkers are today underused in research and in clinical practice due to the need for dedicated in-house expertise and development. Transferring solutions to other centres is therefore a challenge, and this leads to a significant duplication of efforts, a lack of standardisation in the methods, and difficulties in comparing results between centres. This also limits commercial exploitation, and hinders the set-up of multi-centre trials or translation into clinical practice
The overall aim of PARENCHIMA is to eliminate the main barriers to the broader study, commercial exploitation and clinical use of renal MRI biomarkers. PARENCHIMA will coordinate the research of leading European groups in this area to: (1) improve the reproducibility and standardisation of renal MRI biomarkers; (2) increase their availability by developing an open-access toolbox with software and data; (3) demonstrate biological validity and clinical utility in a prospective multicentre clinical study.