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Although it manifests in the kidneys, most scientific studies have found that the cause of this serious kidney disease begins in the gastrointestinal tract. As the disease progresses, up to 50% of patients end up at risk of developing end-stage kidney disease and possible dialysis within 10 to 20 years.

The challenge with IgA nephropathy is that most patients don’t actually know they have the disease, and most are diagnosed by chance. Currently, there are no approved treatment options, and everybody in this disease advances at a different level.

There is a significant unmet need in the treatments offered to patients and a need to target therapies at the very beginning of the disease, which is the production of abnormal IgA. The Balancing Act met with nephrologist Jonathan Barratt of the University of Leicester in the UK to learn more. Plus, we meet with a patient, John, whose diagnosis came as shock but is working to help others through his work at the IgA Nephropathy Foundation.

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