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New research on kidney failure could extend 'nine lives' of cats

The development of a new drug for kidney failure could extend the lifespan of cats, like the one pictured here in Osaka's Chuo Ward in May 2016. (Mainichi)

A research team from the University of Tokyo and other institutions announced that they may have added to the "nine lives" of cats, or at least extend them, by discovering the reason why many cats die of kidney failure.

    The research team, led by Dr. Toru Miyazaki of the University of Tokyo's Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, published the results of its study on kidney failure on Oct. 12 in the digital journal Scientific Reports.

    Kidney failure is said to be the top cause of death among cats, and as the reason is unknown, there were no established medical treatments for the condition. Acute kidney failure is common in cats around the age of 5 or 6, and in 50 to 70 percent of cases the condition does not improve and develops into chronic kidney failure that leads to the death of the animal around age 15.

    New research by Miyazaki's team could be utilized in medical treatment that would extend the life of cats. This is good news for cat owners as cats are the most popular among animal pets. "We are expecting to develop a medicine for cats within the next few years, and there is a chance that it could dramatically extend the lifespan of cats," said Dr. Miyazaki.

    The kidneys work to filter waste from the blood stream and excrete them through urine. When the kidneys can no longer perform this function, the condition is called kidney failure, and the cause is thought to be dead cells that clog up the tubes of the urinary tract.

    When humans and mice experience acute kidney failure, a protein called "AIM" in the blood stream is activated to aid in the process of removing the clogs and restoring kidney function. However, the team found that AIM does not work in cats when they develop acute kidney failure.

    The team expects that the development of medical treatments for kidney failure will not only benefit cats, but also humans as well.

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