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New finding could help form diabetes-related kidney damage treatment

Researchers have made a discovery which could lead to new treatments for diabetic kidney disease.

A team from Edinburgh University said that for the first time they have found a link between a key molecule and diabetic kidney disease, commonly known as diabetic nephropathy.

Previous work has found this molecule, a protein called P2X7R, plays an important role in the immune system and inflammation, and kidney diseases which are nothing to do with diabetes.

The study’s findings showed that when the protein is blocked in rats and mice by using a specific drug, it was possible to prevent kidney damage.

“This study is a major advance in understanding how kidney damage occurs in diabetes and where we might focus our efforts in finding a treatment,” said Dr Robert Menzies, British Heart Foundation and immediate fellow at Edinburgh University.

During the trial samples taken from people with diabetes indicated high levels of P2X7R, but there was little evidence of the protein in those who did not have the condition at all. The protein was linked to poor kidney function and increased tissue scarring.

But when mice were engineered to lack the gene that makes P2X7R, they did not develop kidney scarring in response to diabetes. The researchers believe this suggests that kidney damage could be prevented.

“Diabetic kidney disease is reaching epidemic levels, but we are still searching for that blockbuster drug to help patients,” added Menzies.

“Our next studies are being designed to determine if the P2X7R-blocking drug, which is already known to be safe in humans, could reverse more severe kidney damage or even prevent it. These studies are a very encouraging move forward.”

The findings have been published in the EBioMedicine journal.


Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:

  • Being ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
  • Being unable to produce enough insulin

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.

From this, it can be understood that for someone with diabetes something that is food for ordinary people can become a sort of metabolic poison.

This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid sources of dietary sugar.

The good news is for very many people with type 2 diabetes this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, likely you will never need long-term medication.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.

How serious is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that often requires the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many people with type 2 diabetes are able to reverse diabetes through methods including low-carb diets, very-low-calorie diets and exercise.

For guidance on healthy eating to improve blood glucose levels and weight and to fight back against insulin resistance, join the Low Carb Program.

Following pre-diabetes or metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes can potentially be avoided through diet and exercise.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the cells in your body. Insulin is needed for cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and convert it into energy.

Ineffective use of insulin results in the body becoming resistant to insulin – also known as insulin resistance, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to rise (hyperglycemia).

In advanced stages, type 2 diabetes may cause damage to insulin producing cells in the pancreas, leading to insufficient insulin production for your body’s needs.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

These include:

The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is also influenced by genetics and environmental factors. For example, research shows that:

  • If either parent has type 2 diabetes, the risk of…
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