Metformin, a commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes could prevent heart disease in patients with type 1 diabetes -and could lead to the development of new treatments, according to scientists in the U.K.Metformin is commonly used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. It is not regularly given to patients with type 1 diabetes.
New research has revealed that metformin can promote a patient’s ability to repair their own damaged blood vessels by decreasing the presence of “microRNAs” which increases the growth of blood vessels – in addition to improving glucose levels.
These microRNAs are messenger molecules which regulate different genes in different cells.“This is an exciting development as understanding this underlying mechanism opens up the possibility of new forms of treatment which will lower the chances of patients with type 1 diabetes developing heart disease,” says Dr. Jolanta Weaver who led the clinical trial and is the lead author of the research.
“As the outcomes of heart disease are worse in diabetic patients compared to people who don’t have diabetes, there is a need to identify additional treatment options,” she points out.
Previous studies have shown that the vascular stem cells were improved by metformin. This was the first example of how metformin improved heart disease as well as lowering glucose levels.“Now we know that the drug metformin was able to do this by lowering the presence of microRNAs.”