Research Focus: Clinical trials improve dialysis care

Clinical trials improve dialysis care.
Clinical trials improve dialysis care (QEII Foundation).

At any given time, the Division of Nephrology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax is involved in half a dozen clinical trials to test and/or validate new approaches to managing the many issues that arise with dialysis and kidney disease. These include:

Heart problems — NSHA nephrology researchers are involved in three international studies of heart health in dialysis, designed to improve management of atrial fibrillation (an arrhythmia), heart failure, heart attack and other major adverse cardiac-related events that can occur in dialysis patients.

Patient experience — Ten to 15 per cent of dialysis patients in Nova Scotia have been taught how to administer their treatments in the comfort of their own homes, saving them hours of travel to and from hospital. Researchers in the Division of Nephrology are leaders in learning how best to support home dialysis patients through electronic tools that allow patients to track vital information and stay virtually connected to their care providers. They received a QEII Foundation TRIC (Translating Research Into Care) grant for one pilot study and are now co-investigators on a multi-site CIHR-funded study of an e-health intervention for home dialysis patients.

Catheter and circuit function — Patients on dialysis require a catheter to be inserted into either a major vein (hemodialysis) or the abdomen (peritoneal dialysis). NSHA researchers, including pharmacist Dr. Jo-Anne Wilson, are involved in national clinical trials testing various protocols designed to optimize hemodialysis catheter function. It is also essential to prevent blood clots from forming in the tubing and machinery that allows the blood to be filtered outside the body in hemodialysis. NSHA researchers are taking part in an early-phase study testing an alternative to the blood thinner heparin, to see if it can reduce bleeding risk while still protecting against clots.

Anemia — Clinical trials comparing oral medications to intravenous treatments aimed at preventing or reducing anemia in kidney patients are underway at NSHA.

Itching — Many dialysis patients suffer from intense itching of the skin that no amount of scratching can relieve. NSHA researchers are planning to enroll patients in an international study of an intravenous agent to combat
dialysis-associated itch.

This article was originally published in Research Focus on Nephrology Spring 2019 (PDF)