Researchers at the University of Essex have discovered a new link to the cause of kidney disease in diabetes sufferers which could save hundreds of lives each year. Professor Paul Thornalley and a team of researchers from the University’s Department of Biological Sciences have discovered that diabetic kidney disease may be prevented in its early stages by the use of thiamine (vitamin B-1) and the thiamine derivative Benfotiamine.
The research team at Essex found that diabetes is associated with mild thiamine deficiency and this accelerates the development of kidney disease. They also found that thiamine counters the development of kidney damage in diabetes.
Professor Thornalley said: “Impairment of kidney function is a life-threatening complication commonly associated with diabetes. It is of increasing prevalence and is currently difficult to prevent. However, if more patients are treated with thiamine and its derivative, Benfotiamine, we could see a substantial increase in the life-expectancy of diabetes sufferers.”
He added: “Few studies have been conducted on the thiamine status of diabetic patients. This now needs to be checked urgently, and thiamine deficiency corrected where found. Longer term, we are planning clinical trials with diabetic patients who will be given thiamine supplements.”
Thiamine is a water soluble vitamin and is therefore not stored in the body and must be supplied daily. Chronic dieting, alcoholism and diets of highly processed, refined foods are causes of thiamine deficiency.
University of Essex, Aug 6, 2003