Solution to the growing problem of excess sodium consumption can be possible with a new drug that lowers an individual's salt absorption without affecting his or her diet.
The medication could potentially help the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hypertension, but who have a hard time adhering to a low-sodium diet.
Developed by researchers at drug manufacturer Ardelyx, the drug, tenapanor, works by blocking a membrane transporter called NH3, which is responsible for most of the reuptake of sodium in the body. By inhibiting this protein, the majority of sodium is prevented from seeping into the bloodstream and instead remains in the gut.
"It's a small molecule that's been designed to remain within the gut, acting on this transporter that is expressed in the mucosa in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract," lead researcher Dominique Charmot, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Ardelyx, told Fox News.
"And in doing so, what it does is divert sodium from going into the blood to going into the stool. So that increases sodium in the stool and avoids building up too much sodium in the body," he said.
According to Charmot, current medications to control sodium include diuretics and antihypertensive drugs, which either increase water excretion or control high blood pressure. However, these drugs require patients to adhere to a diet very low in sodium - a feat that can be difficult given the high prevalence of the chemical in typical American diets. But since tenapanor remains in the gut, the drug can remove the sodium while patients continue to eat their normal diet.
The research is published online in the journal Science.