The field of nephrology is constantly evolving, with new research and innovative treatments being presented regularly. At the American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week, several exciting advancements were discussed, including the use of sparsentan in focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, combination treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor and an endothelin A receptor antagonist, and a novel aldosterone synthase inhibitor in chronic kidney disease. In this article, we will critically analyze these findings and their implications for the future of nephrology.
One of the highlights presented at Kidney Week was the use of an investigational cellular product, MDR-101, in HLA-matched living donor kidney transplants. The results showed that all 19 patients who received the MDR-101 infusion were able to successfully discontinue immunosuppressive drugs within a year, with 17 of them remaining off these medications for an entire year. While this is an impressive achievement, it is important to note that two patients experienced recurrence of baseline disease and had to resume treatment due to acute rejection. This highlights the need for further research and refinement of this cell therapy approach to minimize the risk of rejection.
The phase III AYAME study brought attention to bardoxolone methyl as a potential treatment for diabetic kidney disease. The results showed that patients receiving this treatment had a significantly reduced risk of kidney decline compared to those on a placebo. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that two of the secondary endpoints, including progression to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), did not reach significance. This raises questions about the overall effectiveness of bardoxolone methyl in specific populations with a rapid decline in kidney function. Additionally, the trial reported a similar array of adverse events in both the treatment and placebo groups, including deaths. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits and potential risks associated with bardoxolone methyl in diabetic kidney disease patients.
The primary results of the international randomized ALCHEMIST trial evaluated the use of spironolactone in high-risk hemodialysis patients. Unfortunately, the trial demonstrated that spironolactone did not significantly lower the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) when compared to placebo. Although spironolactone did show a reduction in the risk of hospitalization for heart failure, the lack of impact on the composite primary outcome is a significant setback. With no apparent benefit observed in any prespecified subgroups, further analysis is required to understand the reasons behind these findings. It is worth noting that spironolactone was generally well-tolerated, with a few patients experiencing hyperkalemia and gynecomastia.
While the advancements presented at Kidney Week offer hope for improving the treatment of kidney diseases, critical analysis is necessary to understand their limitations and implications. The investigational cellular product MDR-101 has shown promising results in reducing the need for immunosuppressive drugs after kidney transplantation. However, the risk of acute rejection and disease recurrence in some patients raises concerns about its long-term efficacy. Bardoxolone methyl as a treatment for diabetic kidney disease has shown positive outcomes in slowing kidney decline, but further investigation is needed to address the lack of significance in certain endpoints and the occurrence of adverse events. Similarly, the use of spironolactone in high-risk hemodialysis patients did not yield the desired reduction in cardiovascular events, highlighting the need for exploring alternative treatment options. It is through critical analysis and continuous research that the field of nephrology can progress and provide more effective and safer treatments for patients in need of kidney transplantation or with kidney diseases.