Experimental Treatment for Diabetic Kidney Disease Based on Precision Medicine

The drug, baricitinib, is a JAK-STAT inhibitor being developed for rheumatoid arthritis. Research by scientists at the Unviersity of Michigan found a key role for the pathway in diabetic patients suffering from kidney disease.

Phase 2 trial results presented at the recently concluded annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) narrate a story of how a successful partnership between academia and the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in what could be a precision treatment for diabetic kidney disease.

Scientists at the University of Michigan studying the disease condition identified an overactive JAK/STAT signaling pathway in many kidney cells damaged by hyperglycemia. The JAK/STAT pathway is also activated in individuals suffering from the inflammatory disease of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Scientists at Eli Lilly & Co who were developing baricitinib to inhibit the JAK/STAT pathway in RA, approached the University of Michigan team to test the drug in their kidney disease model. In just over a year, a phase 1 clinical trial was initiated to test the drug in 129 adult patients.

Results presented at ADA from the phase 2 studies showed that the drug reduced a key sign of kidney damage, with few side effects, and it had a sustained impact even after patients stopped taking it.

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