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Jan. 29 (UPI) — Researchers in Australia are conducting a trial to determine whether a prescribed amount of water can reduce kidney failure in patients with polycistic kidney disease.

The three-year randomized study in humans, called PREVENT-ADPKD, will investigate the use of water in treating adult polycystic kidney disease. The new study protocol, the first of its kind, was published in BMJ Open.

ADPKD, an inherited disease, occurs when kidneys deteriorate because of cysts that destroy healthy tissue over time. ADPKD, the most common genetic kidney disease in adults, affects one in every 2,500 individuals.

The disease causes kidney failure in 5 percent to 10 percent of the dialysis population worldwide, and people who have it traditionally need dialysis or to receive a kidney transplant.

“If successful, our approach could have major benefits for the health of people with ADPKD,” Dr. Gopi Rangan, a researcher at Westmead Hospital and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, said in a press release. “If we can slow the disease at an early stage, we could potentially prevent kidney failure occurring altogether.

“A positive study result will show that water is a cheap, safe and effective treatment.”

Previous research by the team showed that increased water intake in animals with polycystic kidney disease was highly effective at reducing cyst growth. Two short-term studies in humans conducted by other study groups also suggest water is effective, but neither study included a control group.

Previous trials in patients with recurrent nephrolithiasis, or kidney stones, in Italy and Israel also revealed a long-term increase in fluid intake can be effective.

“Water stops the hormone that makes these cysts grow, so ensuring you aren’t thirsty reduces the chance of cysts growing,” Rangan said.

In the clinical trial, for which more than 240 people have already enrolled, researchers will use an MRI to assess the rate of cyst growth in kidneys. Results of the study are expected in 2020.