New inhibitor drug shows promise in preventing diabetic eye and kidney disease

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New research shows that a new type of inhibitor drug can prevent microvascular diabetic complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease. The study, led by the University of Bristol, was published Cardiovascular Diabetology.

Diabetes, a disease that causes uncontrolled blood glucose levels, is estimated to affect one in 11 people worldwide. Even when managed, this common disease can lead to life-changing complications, affecting the body’s tiny blood vessels, known as the microvasculature.

Although treatments are available for patients who develop microvascular complications such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, these treatments do not completely delay progression. Eventually they can lead to blindness and kidney failure in patients.

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. Researchers have shown in two mouse models that by preventing the loss of this protective layer, the development of diabetic eye and kidney disease can be stopped.

This is achieved by using a ‘heparanase inhibitor’. Heparanase acts like a pair of scissors, damaging the glycocalyx lining. Heparanase inhibitors stop this damage from happening. The research team has developed a novel class of these drugs, which can be successfully developed as a drug to treat patients.

Dr Rebecca Foster, Associate Professor of Microvascular Medicine at Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and senior author of the study, said: “Our results are exciting because we have shown that a single drug can prevent several diabetic complications, which are a global health problem for adults with diabetes. .”

We are currently conducting research to advance our novel class of inhibitors into clinical use. With more than 8% of the global adult population currently living with diabetes, we expect patients to benefit from our findings in the future.”

Dr Monica Gamez, research associate at Bristol Medical School (THS) and corresponding author

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council [MRC].


Journal Reference:

Gamez, M., etc (2024) Heparanase inhibition as a systemic approach to protect the endothelial glycocalyx and prevent microvascular complications in diabetes. Cardiovascular Diabetology.

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