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Past and Current Projects

Cardiovascular Health and Kidney Dysfunction

Individuals with kidney disease have a higher risk for developing heart problems than people with healthy kidneys. Dietary strategies to maintain heart health in patients with kidney dysfunction are difficult to follow due to their restrictive nature and evidence to support their effectiveness is limited.

Cocoa flavanols, the natural bioactive compounds in cocoa, have been shown to improve vascular function in healthy adults and adults with cardiovascular disease. However, until now, there has been no evidence on the possible benefits of dietary cocoa flavanols on vascular function among individuals with kidney disease undergoing chronic hemodialysis.

A dietary intervention study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) examined the effects of daily cocoa flavanol intake on the cardiovascular system of kidney disease patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis. This study demonstrated that the daily intake of cocoa flavanols could significantly improve vascular function and reduce diastolic blood pressure in this group, suggesting that cocoa flavanols may be one dietary approach for improving cardiovascular-related health outcomes in this vulnerable population.

To learn more about this study, read the original article or the press release from CJASN.

Arginase Inhibitors

Arginine is an amino acid that stimulates cells, called cytotoxic T cells, required for the body to fight cancer cells. High levels of arginase, an enzyme that causes depletion of arginine, are observed in patients with renal cell carcinoma and acute myeloid leukemia.

Inhibiting arginase, therefore preventing depletion of arginine, may be one way to improve the ability of cytotoxic T cells to attack and kill cancer cells.

To better pursue this possible therapy, an agreement with Calithera Biosciences was put into place.

Learn more about the outcomes of this project.