A kidney transplant is the first choice for severe renal failure. In Denmark, more than 3000 people live with transplanted kidneys, and every year 500 are on the waiting list. Unfortunately, the lifetime of a transplanted kidney is short, approximately 15 years. After this, the patient must either have a new kidney transplant or go on dialysis.
Researchers may now be able to change this. SGLT2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) were originally developed to treat diabetes, but in patients with kidney disease they have been shown to extend the functional life of the kidney, reduce the occurrence of diabetes, and increase the oxygen level in the kidneys. However, research has not yet been done to investigate these positive effects in patients with kidney transplants.
“Therefore, with the support of the Vissing Foundation, we will investigate whether administering SGLT2i to kidney transplant patients has the desired effect. The results of the research will be compared with those in a group of patients who do not receive this treatment (placebo),” explains Dr Lotte Borg Lange from the Department of Medical Nephrology at Odense University Hospital.
The research project will focus specifically on clarifying the following when SGLT2 inhibitors are given:
1) Is it possible to prolong the functional life of the transplanted kidney?
2) Is the occurrence of diabetes after a kidney transplant reduced?
3) Is the oxygen level in the transplanted kidney improved?
“The results can be implemented directly in current treatment practice and improve treatment for patients with kidney transplants. If it is shown that giving SGLT2i to patients with kidney transplants extends the life of the kidney and reduces diabetes, it will benefit patients in Denmark and the rest of the world,” says Lotte Borg Lange.
If the results are positive, then the time before a re-transplant or dialysis can be extended, waiting lists will be reduced, and the socio-economic burden of the disease will be reduced. Most important of all, the patients’ quality of life will be improved.