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Antidiabetic Drug Shown to Protect Against Kidney Failure

Antidiabetic Drug Shown to Protect Against Kidney Failure

Written by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman, MD
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on April 16, 2019 at 3:52 PM
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  • Canagliflozin, a drug developed to lower glucose levels in diabetics has been found to protect against kidney failure, one of the major complications of diabetes requiring regular dialysis and possibly a kidney transplant
  • The drug can also significantly reduce the incidence of cardiac complications such as heart attack, stroke and premature death
  • Diabetes affects nearly 350 million persons globally and up to 40 percent of diabetics go on to develop diabetic kidney disease
  • About 5 million people are expected to have end-stage kidney failure by 2035

Canagliflozin, a drug developed to lower glucose levels in diabetics has been shown to protect against kidney failure as well as heart complications such as heart attack and stroke, offering new hope to millions of diabetics worldwide, revealed a recent study led by Professor Vlado Perkovic, of The George Institute for Global Health.

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Antidiabetic Drug Shown to Protect Against Kidney Failure

The findings of the study appear in the New England Journal of Medicine and were presented at the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) World Congress of Nephrology in Melbourne

Breakthrough Drug to Reduce Diabetes Complications

Although diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure globally, there have been no major advances that could help preserve kidney function and prevent renal failure in these patients in the last twenty years. The findings of this landmark trial is a breakthrough since diabetics are at increased risk of kidney failure and associated heart complications including heart attack and stroke that severely the quality of life.

The drug canagliflozin is already available in the market and the findings of the study can be readily implemented. It comes in a convenient once-daily dosing.

Findings of the Study

  • For the study, 4,401 patients with diabetes and kidney disease were enlisted from 34 countries across the world
  • In addition to best standard care for kidney disease, using either angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), half the patients were given canagliflozin
  • The control group received the best standard kidney disease care plus placebo
  • In patients on canagliflozin, the risk of developing kidney failure or dying from either kidney or cardiac complications was significantly decreased by 30 percent
  • Admission to hospital for heart failure was significantly reduced by 39 percent in patients who received canagliflozin
  • Heart disease and complications including heart attack, stroke and early death were found to be decreased by 20 percent.
  • Interestingly, although canagliflozin was very effective in preventing kidney and heart complications related to diabetes, it was only modestly effective in reducing blood glucose levels
  • No major side effects due to the drug were reported
The findings of the study suggest that canagliflozin is effective and safe in reducing kidney and heart associated complications in patients with diabetes.

Co-author Associate Professor Meg Jardine of The George Institute, said: "What we have shown is that this drug not only protects people with diabetes from developing kidney failure, but it also protects them from heart disease, heart failure and other cardiovascular complications. Importantly, it helps people who already have reduced kidney function and are at particularly high risk."

About Canagliflozin

  • Canagliflozin belongs to a class of drugs termed sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.
  • It helps decrease blood sugar by making the kidneys remove the excess glucose through the urine.
  • It is usually prescribed in addition to dietary measures and physical exercise and occasionally in combination with other agents to treat type 2 diabetes.
  • The drug is not prescribed for type 1 diabetes
  • Canagliflozin has also been shown to lower incidence of kidney failure, heart attack and stroke in patients with type 2 diabetes

Scope of study

  • Canagliflozin is safe and effective in reducing kidney and heart complications in type 2 diabetes
  • The findings of the study suggest that antidiabetic drugs may have other effects than just lowering blood glucose levels and this aspect needs further research in future studies


Canagliflozin, an antidiabetic agent, might be a potentially safe and effective option to reduce kidney and heart complications in diabetes offering a new lease of life to millions of diabetics across the world.

References :
  1. Diabetic kidney disease: world wide difference of prevalence and risk factors - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5297507/)
  2. Canagliflozin and Renal Outcomes in Type 2 Diabetes and Nephropathy - (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1811744?query=featured_home)

Source: Medindia

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