The KDIGO definition of chronic kidney disease (CKD) allowed a more detailed characterization of CKD causes, epidemiology and consequences. The picture that has emerged is worrisome from the point of view of translation. CKD was among the fastest growing causes of death in the past 20 years in age-adjusted terms. The gap between recent advances and the growing worldwide mortality appears to result from sequential roadblocks that limit the flow from basic research to clinical development (translational research type 1, T1), from clinical development to clinical practice (translational research T2) and result in deficient widespread worldwide implementation of already available medical advances (translational research T3). We now review recent advances and novel concepts that have the potential to change the practice of nephrology in order to improve the outcomes of the maximal number of individuals in the shortest possible interval. These include: (i) updating the CKD concept, shifting the emphasis to the identification, risk stratification and care of early CKD and redefining the concept of aging-associated ‘physiological’ decline of renal function; (ii) advances in the characterization of aetiological factors, including challenging the concept of hypertensive nephropathy, the better definition of the genetic contribution to CKD progression, assessing the role of the liquid biopsy in aetiological diagnosis and characterizing the role of drugs that may be applied to the earliest stages of injury, such as SGLT2 inhibitors in diabetic kidney disease (DKD); (iii) embracing the complexity of CKD as a network disease and (iv) exploring ways to optimize implementation of existing knowledge.

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