In early 2015, IDEXX Laboratories announced a new test for cats and dogs that detects kidney disease at a much earlier stage — when far less damage has been done to the kidney than the current methods. According to Cailin Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN, assistant professor of nutrition at the Cummings School, “Using traditional tests, a diagnosis is made when about 75 percent of the kidney function has been lost, but the new renal biomarker, symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), offers the opportunity to diagnose cats (and dogs) with earlier kidney disease.”
According to IDEXX, “In a recent clinical study, Oregon State University researchers showed SDMA identified disease much earlier in the disease progression, when the kidney had suffered far less damage that results in permanent loss of function — up to four years earlier in at least one animal. On average, SDMA detected kidney disease when only 40 percent of function had been lost and, in some cases, 25 percent of function.”
Potentially, earlier intervention means better management of kidney disease, and a higher quality of life. “I think the big challenge with that test right now, from both a medical and nutritional perspective is: What do we do with the information? We have almost no data that tell us how to prevent kidney disease from progressing if we catch it at an early stage as opposed to late stages, where all the previous research has focused. It’s probably going to take us a few years for the research to catch up,” says Dr. Heinze.
SDMA is a proprietary test now available on every IDEXX chemistry panel, says Dr. Heinze.