Kidney drug trialled at Ulster Hospital

A major kidney drug trial by the University of Oxford has just been completed in the Renal Unit in the Ulster Hospital following clear positive results for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.

By Helen McGurk
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 4:43 pm
Renal patient Robert Kerr and nurse Stephanie Kelly at the Ulster Hospital
Renal patient Robert Kerr and nurse Stephanie Kelly at the Ulster Hospital

‘EMPA-KIDNEY’ is a clinical trial testing whether taking a single drug called Empagliflozin every day prevents the worsening of kidney disease or deaths from heart disease in people who have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Empagliflozin is a new medication that was developed to treat high blood sugar in people with diabetes, which has recently been shown to have beneficial effects on both the heart and kidney.

The drug causes blood sugar and salt to pass into the urine which results in a modest fall in body weight and blood pressure.

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The Ulster Hospital Research team has been part of the ‘EMPA-KIDNEY’ trial, evaluating the effect and safety of Empagliflozin in adults with CKD. It is the largest and most inclusive trial in chronic kidney disease (CKD) to date and includes more than 6,600 adults with this condition.

The study looked at a wide range of patients with declining kidney function with the aim of delaying the need for dialysis and to help prevent heart disease in as many of this group as possible.

Kidney disease is a global public health issue, affecting nearly 850 million people, which is more than one in 10 adults. Worldwide five to 10 million people die each year from chronic kidney disease and many lives are severely disrupted by dialysis treatment. The majority of deaths among people with CKD occur as a result of cardiovascular complications. When kidney disease worsens, affected individuals may have to undergo kidney replacement treatments, such as regular dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Speaking of the trial’s success, consultant nephrologist, Dr Alastair Woodman said: “We are delighted that this trial has shown that Empagliflozin is beneficial among patients who took part in the EMPA-KIDNEY trial. We are very grateful to all of the patients who have participated in this trial which will help provide research and improve treatments for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease in years to come.”

Robert Kerr, a renal patient who took part in the trial stated, “It was a really easy experience for me and the team in the Ulster Hospital worked around my schedule and the appointments were arranged for a time that suited me. I really enjoyed coming up and finding out more about the treatment and research. It was encouraging to know that I was taking part in something that could have a real benefit to not only myself, but to others who suffer from kidney disease.”