Possible New Benefit For Metformin Users

Many people with type 2 diabetes take the drug metformin to control their blood sugar levels.

But now, new research suggests that this drug may also benefit type 1 diabetics, by slowing down the progression of heart disease.

Hindering Heart Disease

This research comes out of Newcastle University and was recently published in Cardiovascular Diabetology.

To conduct the trial, researchers gave 23 people between the ages of 19 and 64 metformin for eight weeks. They measured the stem cells in each patient's blood, and also grew stem cells in test tubes to observe their behavior.

For contrast, nine other participants between the same age range took standard insulin treatments and were monitored as well. All participants in the clinical trial had been living with type 1 diabetes for up to 23 years and had no current evidence of heart disease.

When University researchers analyzed data from this clinical trial, they discovered that metformin increases vascular stem cells. This can help diabetic patients repair their own damaged blood vessels.

“Our research is an exciting step forward,” said Dr. Jolanta Weaver, senior lecturer in diabetes medicine at Newcastle University, who led both the clinical trial and subsequent analysis. “It may have positive clinical implications for patients with increased risk of cardiovascular disease by improving their treatment options”.

Hope For Type 1 Diabetics

Heart disease runs rampant among diabetic patients, accounting for over half of all diabetes deaths. Dr. Weaver believes her team's findings could revolutionize treatment and care for people with type 1 diabetes.

As she said in a press release, “We have shown that all our patients in the study had their insulin doses reduced after taking metformin and have not suffered any serious adverse effect.”

So how can type 1 diabetics reap the benefits of metformin? Of course, there will be further clinical trials before this drug will be widely prescribed, but Weaver suggests that “Patients with type 1 diabetes... consider discussing with their GP the possibility of adding metformin, even at a very low dose, to the insulin that they are taking. However, care needs to be taken to adjust insulin dose to prevent too low glucose levels.”

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