Antidiabetic Drug Shown to Protect Against Kidney Failure


  • Canagliflozin, a
    drug developed to lower glucose levels in diabetics has been found to
    protect against kidney failure, one of the major complications of diabetes
    requiring regular dialysis and possibly a kidney transplant
  • The drug can
    also significantly reduce the incidence of cardiac complications
    such as heart attack, stroke and premature death
  • Diabetes affects
    nearly 350 million persons globally and up
    to 40 percent of diabetics go
    on to develop diabetic kidney disease
  • About 5 million
    people are expected to have end-stage kidney failure by 2035

Canagliflozin, a drug developed to lower glucose levels in
diabetics has been shown to protect
against kidney failure as well as heart complications such as heart
attack and stroke, offering new hope to millions of diabetics worldwide, revealed a recent study led by Professor Vlado Perkovic, of The George
Institute for Global Health.

The findings of the study appear in the New England Journal of Medicine and were presented at the
International Society of Nephrology (ISN) World Congress of Nephrology in

Drug to Reduce Diabetes Complications

Although diabetes is the main cause of
kidney failure
globally, there have been no major advances that could help preserve kidney function and prevent
renal failure in these patients in the last twenty years. The findings
of this landmark trial is a breakthrough since diabetics are at increased risk of kidney failure and associated heart
including heart attack and stroke that severely the quality
of life.

‘A drug like canagliflozin that protects against both kidney and cardiac complications in diabetes patients is a major breakthrough, especially since 5 million people, are expected to have end-stage kidney failure by 2035.’
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The drug canagliflozin
is already available in the market
and the findings of the study can be
readily implemented. It comes in a convenient once-daily

Findings of
the Study

  • For the study,
    4,401 patients with diabetes and kidney disease were enlisted from
    34 countries across the world
  • In addition to
    best standard care for kidney disease, using either angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or
    angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), half the patients were given
  • The control group
    received the best standard kidney
    disease care plus placebo
  • In patients on
    canagliflozin, the risk of developing kidney failure or dying from either kidney or
    cardiac complications was significantly decreased by 30
  • Admission to
    hospital for heart failure was significantly reduced by 39
    percent in patients who received canagliflozin
  • Heart disease and
    complications including heart attack, stroke and early death were
    found to be decreased by 20
  • Interestingly,
    although canagliflozin was very effective in preventing kidney and heart
    complications related to diabetes, it was only modestly effective in
    reducing blood glucose levels
  • No major side
    effects due to the drug were reported

The findings of the study suggest that canagliflozin is effective and safe in reducing kidney and heart
associated complications
in patients with diabetes.

Co-author Associate Professor Meg Jardine of The George
Institute, said: “What we have shown is that this drug not only
protects people with diabetes from developing kidney failure, but it also
protects them from heart disease, heart failure and other cardiovascular
complications. Importantly, it helps people who already have reduced kidney
function and are at particularly high risk.”


  • Canagliflozin belongs to a class of
    drugs termed sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.
  • It helps decrease
    blood sugar by making the kidneys remove the excess glucose through the
  • It
    is usually prescribed in addition to dietary measures and physical
    exercise and occasionally in combination with other agents to treat type 2 diabetes.
  • The
    drug is not prescribed for type 1 diabetes
  • Canagliflozin has
    also been shown to lower incidence of kidney failure, heart attack and
    stroke in patients with type 2 diabetes

Scope of

  • Canagliflozin is
    safe and effective in reducing kidney and heart complications in type 2
  • The findings of
    the study suggest that antidiabetic drugs may have other effects than just
    lowering blood glucose levels and this aspect needs further research in
    future studies


Canagliflozin, an antidiabetic agent, might
be a potentially safe and effective option to reduce kidney and heart
complications in diabetes offering a new lease of life to millions of diabetics
across the world.

References :

  1. Diabetic kidney disease: world wide difference of prevalence and risk factors – (
  2. Canagliflozin and Renal Outcomes in Type 2 Diabetes and Nephropathy – (

Source: Medindia