A common drug taken by people suffering from diabetes may help prevent the further growth of cysts in polycystic kidney disease, a new study has found. The drug, pioglitazone, which is taken by diabetics for insulin resistance, was revealed to halt the growth of fluid-filled cysts in polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a common genetic disorder.
The study, by scientists at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Mayo Clinic, involved a rat model with the same genetic mutation as a form of human PKD, which was independently tested by both groups with pioglitazone. It was found that the drug appeared to slow down the growth of kidney and liver cysts by inhibiting a chloride channel in the cells of the organs.
The study, which was published in the journal PPAR Research, is part of current research into PKD, which currently has no cure and little in the way of viable and effective therapies, with the most usual treatment being a kidney transplant .
Bonnie Blazer-Yost, corresponding author on the study, commented “We thought that since this class of drugs inhibits the body’s chloride channels, then it would be a good candidate to treat PKD, a disease in which excessive chloride and water are transported into the cysts of the kidneys and the liver causing them to expand.”
She added “The finding that pioglitazone, which has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for diabetes, can halt cyst progression and may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for this chronic disease, is exciting. Confirmation of these results in other animal models of PKD would be a useful next step.”

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