Two Drugs Disappoint as Type 1 Kidney Treatments, But Shine With Eyes

While tracking kidney function, the researchers noticed that the drugs had a dramatic effect on the eye damage that often accompanies type 1.

Aug 17, 2009

The theory of unintended consequences has gotten another boost. Although two drugs designed to slow the loss of kidney function in people with type 1 diabetes turned out to be busts, they had a wonderful but entirely unexpected side effect: Eye damage was reduced by 65 to 70 percent in the patients taking them.

Doctors have been using the two blood pressure drugs, enalapril and losartan, to slow the kidney damage caused by long-term type 1 diabetes. They are typically first prescribed about 15 years after diagnosis. But a five-year study that tracked 285 participants found virtually no difference in kidney function between those who took enalapril, those who took losartan, and those who were given a placebo. In other words, neither drug had the desired effect.

But while tracking kidney function, the researchers noticed that the drugs had a dramatic effect on the eye damage that almost always accompanies type 1. Compared to the placebo group, the group that took enalapril experienced 65 percent less eye damage, while those who took losartan experienced 70 percent less.

According to Dr. Michael Mauer, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Minnesota who led the study, the drugs could be a boon to type 1 patients who have begun to experience eye damage. The only drawback to either drug, each of which has a very good safety record, is the possibility of fetal damage if they are taken during pregnancy. He added that whether the drugs will prove effective against eye damage in people with type 2 diabetes is unknown and will require a separate study.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Eye Care (Retinopathy), Kidney Care (Nephropathy), Medications, Research, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues


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Comments

Posted by Anonymous on 18 August 2009

I was actually IN this study and my doctor still won't prescribe the drugs for me. GRRRRRRRR

Posted by cde on 19 August 2009

It would be nice to know if they are talking about proliferative or nonproliferative background retinopathy.

Posted by Anonymous on 26 August 2009

"eye damage that almost always accompanies type 1" - I would be interested to know what % of type 1 diabetics have eye disease. Seems depressing and hopefully inaccurate to phrase the way that you have. THanks!

Posted by Anonymous on 26 August 2009

I've been taking Atacand 32mg since the mid-90's to help protect my kidneys and they have not gotten significantly worse since that time. So it seems to work well for me but I realize the effect varies person-to-person. Unfortunately my drug plan has recently placed Atacand on the non-preferred list. What are doctors recommending these days? I am concerned that the drug will no longer be available to me in the coming years.

Posted by Anonymous on 26 August 2009

The question is, since these were originally blood pressure drugs, do they have a significantly different effect than other blood pressure drugs? I'm betting if you tested for it, one or more of the other more commonly used blood pressure meds have the same effect.

Posted by Anonymous on 26 August 2009

Time to get a new doctor!! Be sure s/he is a diabetes specialist (diabetologist or endocrinologist), not a family practice doc.


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