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New drug may prevent diabetic eye, kidney disease complications: Study

London, Feb 3, 2024
A new type of inhibitor drug could help prevent microvascular diabetic complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, in people with diabetes, a new study has shown.

Diabetes, a disease characterised by uncontrolled blood glucose levels, is estimated to impact one out of every 11 persons globally. Even when treated, this common disease can cause life-altering consequences by affecting the body’s small blood arteries, known as the microvasculature.

While treatments are available for those who develop microvascular complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, these treatments do not fully delay progression. Eventually they may result in blindness and kidney failure in patients, the study published in the journal Cardiovascular Diabetology said.

The research team was interested in the protective lining of all blood vessels, called the glycocalyx. This lining is known to be damaged in diabetes.

In two mouse models, the researchers showed that by preventing damage to this protective layer, the development of diabetic eye and kidney disease could be stopped.

“Our findings are exciting as we have shown that one type of medication might be able to prevent different diabetic complications, which is a global health problem for adults living with diabetes,” said Dr Rebecca Foster, Associate Professor at the UK-based Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS), and senior author of the study.

According to the study, this was achieved using a ‘heparanase inhibitor’.

Heparanase acts like a pair of scissors, damaging the glycocalyx lining. Heparanase inhibitors stop this damage from happening.

The researchers have developed a novel class of these drugs, which could be successfully developed as a medication to treat patients, the study noted.

“We are currently conducting research to advance our novel class of inhibitors to clinical use. With over 8 per cent of the global adult population currently living with diabetes, we hope patients could benefit from our findings in the future,” said Dr Monica Gamez, Research Associate in the Bristol Medical School (THS) and corresponding author.(Agency)

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