A new anti-inflammatory drug bardoxolone methyl may improve kidney function in patients with type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Bardoxolone methyl makes diabetics' kidneys work better."
Past studies have shown drugs that can slow down kidney failure, says Robert Toto, M.D., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. However, he adds that this study is very exciting because it is the first time a drug has been shown to actually increase kidney function.
While taking bardoxolone methyl, diabetics' kidneys started working better. Even four weeks after drug treatment ended, patients still had better kidney function than when they started.
This is important, says Dr. Toto, because it suggests that the helpful effects of the drug continue to last.
The drug did have some side effects, including muscle spasms, low blood magnesium levels (which can lead to life-threatening heart problems), and nausea.
Dr. Toto says that the results of this study should be interpreted with caution because of the small amount of patients and the short length of the study. The next step is to test bardoxolone methyl in a clinical trial with more patients.
This recent study included 227 patients with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. The patients were split up into four groups. Three groups took bardoxolone methyl while the fourth took a placebo.
Dr. Toto and colleagues followed the patients for one year. At 24 weeks and 52 weeks, the researchers saw a significant increase in patients' estimated glomerular filtration rates - which are measurements of how well the kidneys are working - for those who took the drug.