"As the global epidemic of diabetes escalates, this drug has the potential to offer tremendous help to millions of diabetics worldwide," says Anthony Dear. (Credit: Victor/Flickr)

Diabetes drug may reduce heart attack risk

A drug that regulates glucose may offer people with diabetes protection from heart attack and stroke, a pre-clinical study confirms.

For several years researchers have been investigating the drug’s potential to improve or stabilize diabetic vascular disease.

“As the global epidemic of diabetes escalates, this drug has the potential to offer tremendous help to millions of diabetics worldwide,” says Anthony Dear of Monash University who co-led the study. “Lots of drugs lower blood sugar but they don’t necessarily protect blood vessels.”

The drug was derived from the natural gut hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

“It effectively lowers blood glucose by stimulating insulin release in the body. It is a derivative of a naturally occurring substance which appears to have receptors for it on the surface of blood vessel cells in addition to the pancreas, suggesting it may also have an effect on blood vessel disease,” explains Dear.

“We think it may also smooth’ the surface of vessel walls and make them less sticky and prone to develop ‘blockages’—a condition frequently seen in type 2 diabetics. This would mean that blockages, often contributing to the cause of heart attacks and strokes, would be less likely to form.”

The drug might have the extra potential to improve some of the challenges experienced by diabetics, including weight loss. “One of the effects of the drug, and natural hormone from which the drug is derived, is to cause weight loss,” notes Dear.

The journal Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research published the results.

Source: Monash University

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