VitaK develops revolutionary new assay for kidney patients

march 20, 2017

The new test helps decrease the risks of loss of kidney function and arterial calcification

VitaK Innovation in Life Science, a spin-off from Maastricht University, has succeeded in developing a prototype of a new medical diagnostic device called Nephro-K. Nephro-K is an in vitro diagnostic (IVD) system on which in 1 drop of blood a protein can be measured that results from vitamin K insufficiency. The whole test takes no longer than 5 minutes. Elaborate studies have demonstrated that vitamin K is crucial for adequate kidney function, and also improves survival after kidney transplantation.

Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
“Chronic kidney insufficiency, defined as an impaired filtration capacity of the kidneys, occurs in 11-13% of the population in Europe and the USA. Chronic kidney damage is irreversible and in due time it may lead to the need of hemodialysis or kidney transplantation. Moreover, patients with chronic kidney disease are characterized by an up to 14 fold increased risk for cardiovascular disease”, says Drs. Mehrdad Omidvar, CEO of VitaK. A 55-year old subject with chronic kidney dysfunction will live therefore 12 years shorter than a healthy person of the same age (source: Dutch Kidney Foundation). A healthy lifestyle is important for limiting loss of kidney function. Therefore, it is recommended to quit smoking, to abstain from alcoholic beverages, to eat more vegetables and fruit and less fat. Recent studies from VitaK (in collaboration with universities of Louvain, Groningen and Paris) have demonstrated that an adequate vitamin K status contributes to optimal kidney function and is inversely associated with the risk of kidney failure. On average, subjects with a poor vitamin K status had a 10-fold higher risk of decreased kidney function (CKD stage 3 and higher) than those with an adequate vitamin K status.

What is Nephro-K?
VitaK has recently succeeded in developing further its previously designed IVD technology for measuring vitamin K status in kidney transplant recipients (TransCare) for general use in all patients with impaired kidney function, ranging from slightly impaired filtration rate to hemodialysis and kidney transplant recipients. With the new test, called Nephro-K, patients are able to monitor themselves regularly and guided by the outcomes of the test vitamin K intake can be adapted so that within a few weeks an optimal vitamin K status can be reached. In this way an important risk factor for further damage is eliminated. This self-test will be available within shortly as an OTC product in pharmacies and drugstores.

“On a global scale over 2 million patients undergo hemodialysis, and still there is a vast lack of dialysis capacity. Hence it is important to delay or stop the progression of kidney disease by early treatment and optimal nutrition. With this invention we expect to contribute to a significant increase of survival, and to help healthcare providers improve health care quality at reduced costs. Nephro-K is an IVD system that can be simply handled by the patient, allowing a quick test in the home situation the results of which may be discussed with the attending medical doctor. In this way an important risk factor for kidney disease as well as for transplant failure can be eliminated”, says Mehrdad Omidvar.

Benefits for the patient
“Our studies have demonstrated that an adequate vitamin K status contributes to a healthy kidney function, lower risk of kidney transplant failure and also a strong decrease of arterial calcification in chronic kidney patients. Artery calcification is one of the main causes of increased mortality among these patients, which is the reason why regular checking their vitamin K status is important both for survival and for quality of life. Nephro-K offers the opportunity of risk reduction by only minimal adaptations in the diet, and the result thereof can be monitored on a weekly basis with this new test”, says Dr. Cees Vermeer, inventor of this new technology.

In Vitro Diagnostics
Nephro-K, which is protected by 2 international patent applications, forms part of the VitaK IVD Care line and is based on extensive applied scientific research. With these investigations, scientists at VitaK intend to bring their knowledge closely to the patients. VitaK Innovation in Life Science herewith announces its intent to bring this innovative technology to the European market in the summer of 2017.

Note for the press:
More information about the contents of this press release can be obtained from Dr. Cees Vermeer, CSO VitaK: tel +31 (0)43 388 5864, e-mail:

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