Jim Plante, the founder of Pathway Genomics and Klotho Therapeutics, has a personal reason for being concerned about polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. This genetic disorder runs in his family, and he himself has been diagnosed with it. A primary focus for Klotho Therapeutics is to use a human protein that functions as a hormone to delay or entirely prevent the development of this disorder.
The genetic mutation causes cysts to form in the kidneys, limiting their ability to filter waste from the blood effectively. The cysts are not cancerous, but they interfere with kidney function and may eventually cause kidney failure. About 50 percent of patients with PKD experience kidney failure by their senior years. People with chronic renal failure must have regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to survive. Cysts sometimes begin developing in other organs too—most frequently the liver.
Rarely, a patient is …