JDRF UK: JDRF commits £1.3 million to investigate medication with the potential to delay kidney complications

London, UK, Oct. 13, 2023 — Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF has awarded a £1.3 million grant to King’s College London (KCL) and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen to examine how existing drugs, known as SGLT inhibitors, could delay the progression of kidney disease in people living with type 1 diabetes.

The award from JDRF, the leading global type 1 research and advocacy charity, will enable researchers at KCL and the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen to study the effects of sotagliflozin, a Sodium-Glucose Co-Transporter (SGLT) inhibitor, on people with type 1 and kidney disease through a significant clinical trial. There are currently no approved medications to treat kidney disease in people with type 1 diabetes.

Over the past decade, SGLT inhibitors have proven to be effective for people with type 2 diabetes and people without diabetes, reducing the progression of kidney disease and heart disease.

However, there has been a lack of research exploring SGLT inhibitors as a treatment for people with kidney disease and type 1 diabetes. This award from JDRF will allow the investigators to assess how this type of therapy works in type 1.

The trial will take place at the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen and at KCL, where clinicians will recruit participants from across southeast London. Researchers will investigate how the drug, sotagliflozin, works on the kidneys using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can provide a measure of kidney function and oxygen content, as well as measure a potential benefit on the heart.

“In the past decade we have seen amazing results in the treatment of diabetes complications with the drug class SGLT inhibitors. They have reduced progression of kidney and heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes and improve glycemic control in type 1 diabetes, but it is not clear how they work,” said Peter Rossing, M.D., Head of Complications Research at Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen and lead investigator for this study. “Understanding how SGLT inhibitors work is important for the optimal use of these drugs. With no current approved medication for treatment of kidney disease in people with type 1 diabetes, our study could help pave the way if a benefit is demonstrated.”

Researchers at KCL will have the additional aim of evaluating whether there are potential biological differences between African-Caribbean and non-African-Caribbean people in in kidney baseline measures as well as in treatment responses. This is relevant, as recent work from KCL highlighted that African-Caribbean people with type 1 diabetes had a higher and faster risk of kidney disease progression, which was independent of traditional risk factors.

Janaka Karalliedde, Clinical Reader in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease at King’s College London, says: “To date there are no clinical trials in people with type 1 diabetes of African-Carribean heritage who are often at higher risk of kidney complications of diabetes. This landmark study is a really important first milestone in this area and we are delighted to be involved as there is huge potential for new treatments that will make real clinical impact in an under-researched area of type 1 diabetes.”

Rachel Connor, Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF UK said: “We are delighted to provide funding for this much-needed clinical trial which will test whether SGLT-2 inhibitors can slow the progression of kidney disease in people with type 1 diabetes. Kidney disease is challenging to live with. Its treatments are demanding, it limits people’s lifestyles and it’s emotionally draining; and yet there are currently no approved medicines for people with type 1 diabetes and kidney disease. If this study shows that SGLT-2 inhibitors can effectively delay kidney complications for people with type 1, the results could be put into practice very swiftly, benefiting the entire type 1 diabetes community, enabling people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

SGLT inhibitors work by blocking the protein SGLT-2 in the kidneys. This protein usually helps the kidneys reabsorb glucose from urine that would otherwise be lost when it is excreted. As a result, when SGLT is blocked, more glucose ends up in the urine and is removed from the body, helping patients with type 2 diabetes manage their condition more effectively.


About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global type 1 diabetes charity, working to help people live better lives with the condition. The charity does this by funding research, campaigning for access to all treatments and connecting and supporting the type 1 community.

JDRF funds world-class, international research that one day will cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications. Research was the inspiration behind the founding of JDRF over 50 years ago by families living with type 1. Research is the way we will reach a point in time when no-one must take insulin to stay alive.

Globally, JDRF has invested £2 billion into research. From developing the first engineered insulin over 40 years ago to making the hybrid closed loop, often referred to as the artificial pancreas, a reality, we have driven breakthroughs in type 1 since our inception. Our promising research to slow, halt or reverse the condition and protect insulin producing beta cells means the door to cures is firmly open.

About King’s College London 

King’s College London is amongst the top 40 universities in the world and top 10 in Europe (THE World University Rankings 2024), and one of England’s oldest and most prestigious universities.

With an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research, King’s maintained its sixth position for ‘research power’ in the UK (2021 Research Excellence Framework).

King's has more than 33,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,500 staff.

Since its foundation, King’s students and staff have dedicated themselves in the service of society. King’s continues to focus on world-leading education, research and service, and will have an increasingly proactive role to play in a more interconnected, complex world. Visit the website to find out more about Vision 2029, King's strategic vision to take the university to the 200th anniversary of its founding.

World-changing ideas. Life-changing impact: kcl.ac.uk/news  

 About Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen

Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen is Scandinavia's largest diabetes clinic, treating over 11,000 individuals with diabetes from the Capital Region each year.

The vision for Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen is to elevate the entire diabetes field in the Capital Region of Denmark, ensuring that individuals with diabetes in the metropolitan area receive the best diabetes treatment and prevention to enhance their quality of life. Additionally, Steno aims to provide inspiration and new knowledge on a national and international scale.

About type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects both children and adults. Over 400,000 people in the UK live with type 1. It’s unpreventable and at present, there is no cure.

With type 1, your pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone the body needs to get energy from food. This means a process your body should do naturally and automatically becomes something you must look after yourself, every day. Without intervention, a person with type 1 would die within a few short days. People living with type 1, must constantly monitor their blood-glucose levels. If blood glucose levels are too high or low and left untreated, they will begin to feel unwell. It could lead to serious complications and potentially be fatal.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, it isn’t caused by anything that somebody did or didn’t do, and there is currently nothing we can do to prevent or cure it.



Odette Myall, JDRF