Bayer backing new kidney disease trial

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A trial backed by Bayer has received the largest ever NHMRC project grant for an initiative focused on kidney disease.

The grant is one of 682 grants announced by health minister Greg Hunt with $526 million in funding.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health have been awarded $5.5 million by the National Health and Research Medical Council. Bayer is providing additional support.

The trial is aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and death) in people with advanced kidney disease.

When completed it will be the first and largest ever trial evaluating blood-thinning medications for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Around 50,000 Australians have advanced stages of CKD. Another 12,500 receive dialysis. Around half of them will die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) with young people at particularly greater risk of death.

There are few treatments proven to benefit people with CKD.

Some treatments that work in the general population do not perform as well in the presence of kidney disease while others have a higher risk of side effects. People with CKD have also largely been excluded from CVD trials. This has left a huge gap in both evidence and treatment.

This new international trial, being led by The George Institute and supported by Kidney Health Australia, Bayer and leading researchers, will evaluate whether a low dose of PBS-listed blood-thinning medication XARELTO (rivaroxaban), which is beneficial in people with CVD, will also safely reduce the number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths with people with CKD.

According to lead researcher Sunil Badve, senior research fellow and associate professor of medicine at The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW Sydney, “Patients with chronic kidney disease are missing out on lifesaving treatments. We hope this trial will help millions of people around the world by providing them with a medication that will prevent them from dying of a heart attack or suffering a stroke.”

“It’s an exciting opportunity to address this unmet need and hopefully deliver a treatment that will save lives and also save money as CKD is a very complex condition to manage,” added Associate Professor Badve, who is also a nephrologist at St George Hospital in Sydney.

Around 2,000 patients with CKD in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, China, Canada and the UK will take part in the five-year randomised trial and receive XARELTO at a low dose to try to avoid any associated side effects.

Dr Eduardo Pimenta, head of medical affairs at Bayer Australia and New Zealand, said, “Bayer is proud to partner with the George Institute and Kidney Health Australia to address a significant gap in the evidence and management of CVD in people with end-stage kidney disease. Collaborations such as this underscore our commitment to facilitating ground breaking research to improve patient outcomes in the future.”