To Your Good Health: New treatment still has hurdles to jump

DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently read an article released by the Broad Institute that claims a breakthrough in the treatment of progressive kidney disease. It states that experiments with rats have resulted in the stoppage of disease progression, and in some cases, reversal. It further states that human trials are the next step. Do you have any additional information on this important news?

– E.L.

ANSWER: Thank you for writing. The article you reference was published in the prestigious journal Science. The researchers were able to identify a compound (called AC1903) that protected the kidneys in mice with a type of kidney disease that has similar characteristics to chronic kidney disease in humans. This is very exciting; however, it is likely to be years before clinical data could be available, and a decade or more before it is available for general use. Many promising drugs fail in human trials despite very good results in animal models.

Medications used to prevent problems need a very high level of certainty before they can be used widely, and demonstrating that one slows the progression of kidney disease will require a long clinical trial.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.