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New drug could prevent eye and kidney disease in people with diabetes

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A new type of inhibitor drug could prevent microvascular diabetic complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, new research led by the University of Bristol has found.

Diabetes is estimated to affect one in 11 adults worldwide and even when managed, the disease can result in life-altering complications, impacting the small blood vessels of the body, known as the microvasculature.

While treatments are available for patients who develop microvascular complications, such as diabetic eye and kidney disease, these treatments do not fully delay progression and may eventually result in blindness and kidney failure in patients.

Correspondi g author Dr Monica Gamez is a Research Associate in the Bristol Medical School (THS).

The researcher said: “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.”

The researchers were interested in the protective lining of all blood vessels, called the glycocalyx, which is known to be damaged in diabetes.

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

This is achieved by using a ‘heparanase inhibitor’. Heparanase acts likes a pair of scissors and damages the glycocalyx lining.

Heparanase inhibitors stop this damage from occurring.

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

Dr Rebecca Foster is Associate Professor of Microvascular Medicine in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and senior author of the study.

She said: “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.”

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