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

Diabetes, even when managed, 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. Eventually, they may result in blindness and kidney failure in patients.

New research published in Cardiovascular Diabetology has shown a novel type of inhibitor drug could prevent microvascular diabetic complications. The research focused on the protective lining of all blood vessels, called the glycocalyx. This lining is known to be damaged in diabetes. The researchers showed in two mouse models that by preventing damage to this protective layer, the development of diabetic eye and kidney disease could be stopped.

The researchers achieved this positive outcome by using a “heparanase inhibitor.” Heparanase acts likes 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 could be successfully developed as a medication to treat patients. Dr. Monica Gamez, research associate in the University of Bristol Medical School and corresponding author, said, “We are currently conducting research to advance our novel class of inhibitors to clinical use. With over 8% of the global adult population currently living with diabetes, we hope patients could benefit from our findings in the future.” 

Source: University of Bristol, Medical Xpress, February 2, 2024; see source article