Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and eventual kidney failure. A collaborative new study between several Spanish institutions proposes a new approach to slow the progression of kidney disease in diabetic patients.
The study, “Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling-1 Peptidomimetic Limits Progression of Diabetic Nephropathy,” was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 422 million people in 2016 suffer from diabetes worldwide. Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure are among the most serious long-term complications of diabetes, affecting about one-third of diabetic patients. In diabetic nephropathy, filters of the kidneys are damaged, which leads to significant loss of protein from the blood into the urine.
There are limited therapeutic options for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy, and most of them are designed to slow the progression of kidney damage to control related complications.
In this study, researchers developed a novel method that targets a cellular pathway called JAK/STAT, involved in transmitting information from extracellular chemical signals to the nucleus where genes are expressed. In diabetic patients, JAK/STAT is chronically activated and mediates the resulting damage induced by elevated blood sugar on kidney cells.
To overcome the problem, researchers found a new way to control JAK/STAT by synthesizing a molecule that mimics the SOCS1 protein, which reduces the effect of cytokine signaling. This process helps to regulate JAK/STAT levels.
In a mouse model, the results showed that this novel synthetic compound can penetrate the cells and stop the damaging effects of diabetes on kidney cells, slowing the progression of kidney disease.
Other results suggest the compound could help improve the kidney function, reduce kidney inflammation and scarring, and protect the kidneys of diabetic patients at early or advanced stages of diabetes.
“Our goal is to develop the compound as a novel approach to combat chronic complications of diabetes,” said Carmen Gomez-Guerrero, PhD, principal investigator at Madrid’s Fundacion Jimenez Diaz University Hospital-Health Research Institute at the Autonomous University, in a press release.
She said the team plans to begin preclinical development to support early-phase clinical trials.