A Dutch study shows the drug atrasentan offers benefits as an add-on treatment for diabetic nephropathy in addition to blood pressure medications such as ACE inhibitors and AIIRAs.
Researchers from the University Medical Centre Groningen reviewed patients with type 2 diabetes that were already taking the maximum dose of other blood pressure medications. The diabetic participants in the study were assigned to either a high dose of 1.25mg or a lower dose of 0.75mg, in addition to their existing blood pressure medication.
The results showed that atrasentan lowered high levels of albuminuria by more than 30% in just over half of patients. In addition, the drug had positive effects in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The higher doses of atrasentan showed increased positive benefits but also increased negative effects in comparison with the lower dose. Of the less positive effects, participants experienced weight gain of 0.4 kg for the lower dose and 0.9 kg for the higher dose. Participants also experienced increased fluid retention and some experienced anaemia. More participants on the higher dose dropped out of the study as a result of the side effects.
Earlier trials of similar drugs, at higher doses, had shown increased risks of heart failure. Whilst this trial showed no evidence of increased heart failure, the trial lasted only 30 days and longer trials will be required before safety of the drug can be approved.

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