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Searching for new treatments for diabetic kidney disease

Toronto, December 27, 2012

By Evelyne Jhung

Dr. Andrew Advani
Dr. Andrew Advani

As an endocrinologist, Dr. Andrew Advani sees the toll diabetes can have on his patients.

Long-term complications include diabetic kidney disease, the most common cause of kidney failure in Canada. People with diabetic kidney disease are also at greatly increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“It’s heartbreaking to see people who you have got to know well over years develop diabetes complications,” said Dr. Advani. “We need new treatments for diabetic kidney disease, particularly ones to prevent people with the disease from dying of a heart attack or stroke.”

Dr. Advani’s lab is focused on discovering why people with diabetic kidney disease are at such an increased risk of heart disease. In diabetic kidney disease, the tiny filters in the kidney, called glomeruli, can become damaged and leak proteins into the urine.

“We believe that damage to endothelial cells [cells that line the blood vessels] lies at the centre of the problem,” said Dr. Advani.

Damage to endothelial cells in the kidneys can lead to protein leaking into the urine and the same damage to endothelial cells in the heart or brain could cause a heart attack or stroke.

Discovering how this damage occurs to endothelial cells could lead to new treatments for people with diabetes, not only to stop kidney failure, but possibly also to reduce the danger of heart disease.

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