The Kidney Foundation of Canada

Dr. David Collister

Dr. David Collister

McMaster University, ON

Dialysis Symptom Control-Restless Legs Syndrome (DISCO-RLS) trial

Co-applicant(s): Michael W. Walsh

2018-2020:  $130,000 |  KRESCENT Post-Doctoral Fellowships |  Category: Dialysis

Lay Summary

Patients with kidney disease are often excluded from research studies examining new drugs and technologies because of their kidney dysfunction. This puts kidney disease patients at a disadvantage despite commonly having other illnesses independent of their kidney disease. The Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC) has previously prioritized addressing knowledge gaps in the treatment of patients with kidney disease by increasing the amount of research studies focused on key questions related to patients, their caregivers and their doctors. The KFOC acknowledges the need for high quality studies and networks to answer relevant questions with randomized clinical trials, the type of studies which are my area of focus, being one of the highest of levels of evidence to guide clinical decision-making. 
Symptoms are common in dialysis patients but are not optimally managed despite being a patient, caregiver and physician research priority. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the nervous system that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs or other body parts that affects 30% of dialysis patients and is bothersome, disrupts sleep and decreases quality of life. In patients without kidney disease, there is a significant amount of research dedicated to treating this condition but in individuals with kidney disease, in which the disorder is thought to be possibly different in its origins, only a handful of clinical trials have been performed and each of them with limitations.
My research focuses on treating symptoms in dialysis patients so that they can feel better and have a better quality of life. I will be performing a pilot clinical trial of two different types of medications and their combination compared to placebo(s), (pills that look, smell, taste and feel the same as real drugs but do not contain any medication), for RLS in dialysis patients to see if it is feasible to expand to a larger study. This larger study will include multiple sites across Canada with the goal of finding out the best way to control symptoms in this challenging condition. This clinical trial is in the context of the cluster of symptoms that are common in dialysis patients including depression, anxiety, fatigue, itchiness and pain, which I hope to study in future clinical trials of drugs and other interventions to help patients and their families.