Hope for kidney health in gout drug

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PERL study will explore the potential of allopurinol to delay or halt kidney disease in people with type 1 diabetes.

As we near the end of March, National Kidney Month, we find ourselves at the beginning stages of an exciting new clinical trial that could lead to better health for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) who suffer from kidney disease. Up to one-third of people with T1D develop kidney abnormalities, and although glucose and blood pressure control has improved in the last two decades, diabetic kidney disease is still an all-too-common serious complication of T1D. As part of its research strategy aimed at preventing and treating T1D complications, JDRF is funding critical research into possible ways to reduce kidney problems for people with the disease.

To address the major problem of kidney disease in people with diabetes, Alessandro Doria, M.D., Ph.D., at the Joslin Diabetes Center formed a network of scientists from eight research centers around the world, known as the Preventing Early Renal Function Loss in Diabetes (PERL) Consortium. The PERL Consortium has designed a large clinical trial targeting T1D patients with signs of initial kidney disease, to examine the potential benefit of allopurinol—a nearly 50-year-old drug, currently used to treat gout, that lowers uric acid, high levels of which correlate to progression of kidney disease. JDRF funded an earlier pilot study of allopurinol that has laid the foundation for this larger study, funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Special Diabetes Program, with continued support and involvement from JDRF scientists.

Should the PERL study demonstrate allopurinol’s effectiveness in slowing or stopping the loss of kidney function in people with T1D, it could be a major step toward preventing or delaying kidney failure in those who show early signs of kidney damage. Given the availability, low cost, and safety of the drug, a tangible treatment for people with T1D could follow in the study’s footsteps.

For more information on the PERL study, including its participating centers, visit ClinicalTrials.gov: Allopurinol to Prevent Kidney Function Loss in T1D.