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Dean Honda watched his father go through dialysis for years, and he knew that was a fate he wanted to avoid.
Honda has Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and related kidney disease, and the 62-year-old was immediately interested when NorthShore endocrinologist Liana Billings, MD, MMSc, introduced the possibility of a clinical trial for a new medication.
“My ultimate goal was to help myself, but I also hoped that I could be helping others in the community,” said Honda, who is now participating in his second trial with NorthShore. “I’m pretty sure I’m not in the placebo group. I started losing weight, and my numbers were better almost right away.”
Honda is taking part in the FLOW study designed to examine whether a specific GLP-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) medication reduces the risk of worsening diabetes-related kidney disease.
Volunteers like Honda often sign on to be part of a study not knowing if they’ll be assigned to receive the test medication or placebo. Their physicians are also “blinded” not knowing which patients are in the medication or placebo group until the clinical trial has been completed.
Dr. Billings, who serves as the principal investigator for the FLOW trial, is grateful to patients like Honda.
“It’s so incredibly valuable for science to have people participating in these studies,” she said. “Their involvement in clinical research is impactful and essential in expanding our knowledge about how we can best take care of patients with diabetes or other medical conditions. We are so thankful for every single one of them.”
The FLOW study is one of the first to specifically look at renal outcomes with this class of medications.
“Our clinical trials really complement our care,” said Dr. Billings. “Just by participating in the study, patients have more touch points with our team and more education, which can be especially valuable for diabetes patients.”
Clinical trials allow NorthShore researchers to investigate new medications and have a head start once they are approved.
“One of our strengths at NorthShore is that we’re nimble enough to implement studies quickly and effectively,” added Dr. Billings. “As clinicians, we understand the clinical relevance to our patients, so it’s rewarding to see somebody like Dean doing so well and giving back at the same time.”
For more information on NorthShore research initiatives, visit the Research Institute