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David Collister, MD

Award: KRESCENT Fellowship
Institution: McMaster University
Year: 2018-2020

Study title: Dialysis Symptom Control-Restless Legs Syndrome (DISCO-RLS) trial​

Lay Summary
Patients with kidney disease are often excluded from research studies examining new drugs and technologies because of their renal dysfunction. This puts kidney disease patients at a disadvantage, as they are often afflicted with other illnesses independent of their kidney disease. The Kidney Foundation has previously prioritized the investigation of knowledge gaps in the treatment of patients with kidney disease by increasing the number of research studies focused on key questions related to patients, their caregivers and their doctors, and acknowledges the need for high quality studies and the creation of networks to investigate relevant questions through randomized clinical trials. These types of studies are Dr. Collister’s area of focus and constitute some of the most reliable evidence to guide clinical decision-making.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a disorder of the nervous system that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs or other body parts. RLS affects 30% of dialysis patients and is bothersome, disrupts sleep and decreases quality of life. Symptoms are common in dialysis patients but are not optimally managed despite being a patient, caregiver and physician research priority. 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 is associated with specific limitations.

Dr. Collister’s research focuses on treating symptoms in dialysis patients so they feel better and have a better quality of life. He will be performing a pilot clinical trial of two different types of medication – individually and in combination – compared with 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 determine the feasibility of a larger study. The larger study will include multiple sites across Canada with the goal of identifying the best way to control symptoms associated with this challenging condition in the context of the cluster of symptoms that are common in dialysis patients, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, itchiness and pain. Dr. Collister also hopes to study these latter symptoms in future clinical trials of drugs and other interventions that will eventually help kidney disease patients and their families.