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Novel Drug Offers Hope in Preventing Diabetic Eye and Kidney Disease

Novel Drug Offers Hope in Preventing Diabetic Eye and Kidney Disease

February 05, 2024

New research led by the University of Bristol has identified a promising type of inhibitor drug that could potentially prevent microvascular diabetic complications, including diabetic eye and kidney disease.

The study, published in Cardiovascular Diabetology, focuses on protecting the glycocalyx, the lining of blood vessels known to be damaged in diabetes.

The research team, led by Dr. Rebecca Foster, associate professor of microvascular medicine in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS), demonstrated in two mouse models that preventing damage to the glycocalyx could halt the development of diabetic eye and kidney diseases. The key to achieving this lies in a "heparanase inhibitor."

Heparanase, described as acting like a pair of scissors, damages the glycocalyx lining. The newly developed heparanase inhibitors successfully prevent this damage from occurring, offering a potential solution to mitigate diabetic complications. Dr. Foster highlighted the significance of these findings, stating, "Our findings are exciting as we have shown that one type of medication might be able to prevent different diabetic complications, which is a global health problem for adults living with diabetes."

Dr. Monica Gamez, research associate in the Bristol Medical School (THS) and corresponding author of the study, expressed optimism about the future application of their research. "We are currently conducting research to advance our novel class of inhibitors to clinical use. With over 8% of the global adult population currently living with diabetes, we hope patients could benefit from our findings in the future."

The development of a novel class of heparanase inhibitors offers a potential breakthrough in the treatment of diabetic complications, addressing a critical global health concern. As the research team continues to advance their findings towards clinical applications, there is optimism for a new medication that could significantly improve the lives of those living with diabetes worldwide.


Monica Gamez et al, Heparanase inhibition as a systemic approach to protect the endothelial glycocalyx and prevent microvascular complications in diabetes, Cardiovascular Diabetology (2024). DOI: 10.1186/s12933-024-02133-1