Companies founded by Jim Plante focus on biotechnology and genetic screening for improved health, chronic disease prevention, and the future effective treatment or possible cure of chronic health problems. Mr. Plante has also founded companies designed to fund these projects in various ways. One of the main targeted health problems is chronic polycystic kidney disease, which runs in Mr. Plante’s family.
Characteristics of the Disease
In this disease, fluid-filled cysts grow in the kidneys and often in other organs and tissues. They may grow in the pancreas or the liver, for instance.
The cysts eventually undermine kidney function if they become large and numerous enough, which can lead to chronic renal failure. The patient then must have regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant. There are significant variations in the severity of disease progression among patients. Some never experience anywhere near this level of severity, even if they live to a very old age. Others have renal failure by middle age.
The most common inherited form of this particular renal disorder is medically known as autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, or ADPKD. As hereditary diseases go, this is one of the more common examples. Many diseases have genetic factors, but in most cases, the genetic tie is not as strong as it is with ADPKD.
Some 90 percent of people with this disorder carry the genetic marker, inherited from a parent. About 50 percent of children of parents with this genetic mutation inherit that marker. The rest of the patients seem to develop the mutation and the condition for no apparent reason. However, it’s possible that research has not yet uncovered genetic hereditary factors in this smaller percentage of the patient group.
Treatments and Disease Management
Researchers have been working on building and discovering effective treatments for ADPKD. One treatment that shows promise involves disrupting the cell membranes of the cysts. Gene therapy may be an effective option in the future. Patients can help manage their condition and their overall health by following instructions from doctors and being aware of potential complications. High blood pressure is a very common complication with this disease, for example.