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A step toward slowing diabetic kidney disease?

The University of Minnesota and Harvard University will partner on a multicenter clinical study evaluating a potential treatment for kidney disease in people who have type 1 diabetes. The study will be funded by a $24.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Part of the Preventing Early Renal Function Loss in Diabetes Consortium, the study is designed to assess the possible benefits of using the FDA-approved drug allopurinol to slow the decline of kidney function in people who have type 1 diabetes. Allopurinol is meant to lower levels of uric acid, which has been linked to a risk of kidney complications in diabetes. What the researchers don’t know is whether the uric acid itself or another related culprit is responsible for predisposing diabetics to kidney disease.

Michael Mauer, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, is coleading the trial. Luiza Caramori, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University, will direct the study.

“If we see a significant benefit of allopurinol on slowing progression of diabetic kidney disease, this will become a standard addition to the treatment of diabetic kidney complications, especially given that allopurinol is relatively inexpensive and safe,” Caramori says.

Kidney disease can become a major burden for people who have type 1 diabetes; an estimated 10 to 15 percent develop end-stage renal disease and require hemodialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

“This study has large human suffering, public health, and health cost implications,” says Mauer.

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