Throughout the month of March, the Joslin Blog is highlighting stories about your kidneys and diabetes. Be sure to check in each week for updates from Joslin’s clinicians and researchers on how they are working to help detect and treat kidney disease. This article originally appeared on March 7, 2016.
The research idea sprang from data. “Our data revealed type 1 diabetes patients with moderately high serum uric acid levels are at high risk of losing kidney function,” says Joslin researcher Alessandro Doria, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. (above right). “But we didn’t know if this is due to uric acid itself or to something else going together with it. We need to find out if uric acid is the culprit or not.”
To find the answer, he is heading a new study in collaboration with Andrzej Krolewski, Ph.D. (above left), head of Genetics and Epidemiology, and other key Joslin investigators including Allison Goldfine, M.D., Director of Clinical Research, and renal specialist Robert C. Stanton, M.D. In 2013, the National Institutes of Health awarded Joslin $24.3 million to lead a five-year clinical trial titled Preventing Early Renal Function Loss in Diabetes, or PERL.
The aim is to determine if allopurinol—an FDA-approved drug that lowers uric acid—will help prevent or slow the loss of kidney function in people with type 1 diabetes. Working with 10 other clinical centers in the United States, Canada and Denmark, the study will enroll approximately 500 patients. Half will receive allopurinol, the others a placebo, and their kidney function will be compared after three years.
This research offers potential hope to people with type 1 diabetes, 10 to 15 percent of whom will develop end-stage renal disease, meaning they will need dialysis or a renal transplant to survive. Dr. Doria is eager to see the results: “If we see a robust effect from this study, we will have a new therapy for kidney complications.”
Photo credit: John Soares