BEIJING — A common rheumatoid arthritis drug may be an effective new therapy for lowering blood glucose levels in patients with Type-2 diabetes, a new study has said.
Researchers from the Institute of Comparative Medicine at Yangzhou University in China have discovered that the anti-inflammatory drug leflunomide has highly beneficial effects on diabetes sufferers. And, the findings could offer an exciting alternative to current treatments for Type 2 diabetes.
“We found that lefluonomide targets a protein involved in desensitising the insulin receptor, which is responsible for instructing the cells to start absorbing sugar from the bloodstream”, Xiulong Xu, Professor at the Institute of Comparative Medicine at Yangzhou University in China, said in a paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
“We know some inflammatory factors can also desensitise the insulin receptor, and lefluonamide is an anti-inflammatory, so it may be that it controls blood sugar partly by its anti-inflammatory effect,” Xu said.
Researchers said the findings suggested the same therapy could now be introduced as an effective anti-diabetic treatment for humans. They said it would be particularly suitable for patients with both diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis, affecting approximately one per cent of the worldwide population, is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes pain and swelling in the joints.
The anti-inflammatory drug, lefluonamide, lowered blood glucose levels and reversed insulin resistance in mouse models of Type 2 diabetes, which suggests that this therapy could be repurposed as an effective antidiabetic treatment, particularly suitable for patients with both diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Lefluonamide has long been approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and previous clinical studies have noted that patients taking the drug tended to have lower blood glucose levels and that obese patients lost weight.
However, lefluonomide also acts on other molecular targets in the body. This suggests that more studies are needed to confirm that the anti-diabetic effects observed are solely caused by lefluonamide’s effect on the insulin receptor.
The next step according to Xu is to conduct clinical trials to test if the antidiabetic effect of lefluonamide also occurs in humans as well as mice.
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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk
A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.
According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.
Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.
The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.
Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.
“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.
Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.
Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.
Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.
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