Researchers have found a breakthrough diabetes drug which could significantly reduce the rates of deaths caused by kidney and heart disease and protect millions from these serious health conditions.
A major trial was conducted by a team led by researchers from the University of Oxford. Through the study, the team found that canagliflozin, a drug that is taken once-a-day to reduce blood sugar levels, helped reduce death rates in diabetic patients caused by heart disease and kidney failure.
Diabetic kidney disease occurs due to poor management of blood sugar, which results in damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. This hampers its ability to get rid of salts, protein and toxins in the blood, which can be very harmful. People who develop kidney failure are not only at risk of death from heart disease, but they also need to get dialysis sessions to clean their blood regularly. Despite millions of people across the globe suffering from diabetic kidney disease, no new treatments have been made available in the past two decades. “There are more than 400 million people with diabetes worldwide, around 40 per cent of these people will get kidney disease,” lead author of the study Professor Vlado Perkovic, from the George Institute at Oxford University, told a news portal.Adding, “Once they’ve got kidney disease, they’re at very high risk of kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and of death.”
4,401 patients with diabetes and kidney disease from 34 countries participated in the new study. Researchers tested the effects of canagliflozin on part of the group. They also randomly assigned some in the group to take a placebo. When researchers saw a huge success rate in participants taking canagliflozin, they decided to end the trial early for ethical reasons. They found it unfair to continue the study for those participants taking a placebo. In a span of almost two and a half years, death rates and kidney failure reduced by almost 34 per cent in the group taking canagliflozin. Researchers also found hospitalisations related to heart failure also reduce by 39 per cent lower and deaths from heart diseases were fell by 20 per cent lower.Researchers also noted the drug had no major side effects.
“What we have shown is that this drug not only protects people with diabetes from developing kidney failure, but it also protects them from heart disease, heart failure and other cardiovascular complications,” Dr Meg Jardine, co-author of the study, told a news portal. Adding,“Importantly, it helps people who already have reduced kidney function and are at particularly high risk.
Dr Meg Jardine further noted: “With five million people worldwide predicted to have kidney failure by 2035 this is a major breakthrough.”
Further research is needed to fully understand the drug's effects. However, the team is excited by this breakthrough and believe it is the first positive step to developing better treatments for those suffering this deadly health condition.
The study's findings were originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine.