01:34pm Tuesday 22 October 2019

JDRF-Funded Study Finds Experimental Drug May Slow Kidney Disease

This increases their chances for developing diabetes-related complications.

While JDRF’s ultimate goal is to cure type 1 diabetes, we are also committed to improving the quality of life and minimizing the risk of serious and life-threatening complications for those with type 1 diabetes today.  In fact, JDRF has an extensive portfolio dedicated to advancing research with the goal of developing products that will stop or slow the progression of complications in people with diabetes.

Recently, a study funded by JDRF in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) discovered that an experimental drug called pirfenidone, may slow kidney disease in people with diabetes.  Pirfenidone is not approved in the U.S., however it is used in Japan to treat adults with a mild to moderate form of lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Diabetic kidney disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes.  Roughly 25 percent of people with type 1 diabetes have kidney disease, in which a person’s kidneys and kidney function slowly deteriorate over time. 

The study, reported online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology was led by Dr. Kumar Sharma of the University of California San Diego and VA Medical Center in La Jolla, CA.  The researchers tested 77 patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes using placebo treatment or pirfenidone per day for 54 weeks. The researchers discovered kidney function improved with a low dose of the drug but kidney function continued to drop in patients using the placebo.

These study results are preliminary requiring much larger studies to establish the true effect in patients with diabetic kidney disease.  According to Dr. Sharma and many other experts in the field, current standard of care with renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockers have not stopped or reversed kidney disease.  Additionally, the study paves the way for larger studies and incorporation of collateral approaches to develop biomarkers with which to gauge a drug effect.

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