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Overdose drug to help diabetes

5 September 2012

Overdose drug to help diabetes

New research suggests that a drug used to reverse the effects of a paracetamol overdose could reduce the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes.

A team at the University of the Highlands and Island’s Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science looked at the effect of the drug, N-acetylcysteine, on blood platelets, which are a key component in blood clots. These blood clots can go on to cause heart attacks and some forms of stroke.

Heart disease in people living with diabetes is a major cause of reduced life expectancy. Aspirin is usually used to prevent heart attacks but is less effective in people with the condition.

The results showed that a daily treatment with the drug could reduce indicators of blood clot formation. This means that the drug could possibly be used before any damage to the heart is discovered.

Prof Megson said, “Aspirin has long been recognised to be useful in helping to prevent heart attacks, but it has recently been found to be largely ineffective in patients with diabetes before there is evidence of heart damage. There is an urgent need to find new drugs as alternatives to aspirin in this vulnerable group of patients. This study represents an important early step in finding just such a drug. We are now in the hunt for further funding to take the therapy to larger trials to establish its potential in patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”

Sandra MacRury, professor of clinical diabetes at the University said, “People with type 2 diabetes had an increased risk of all types of vascular disease even when high blood pressure and cholesterol have been treated. The important finding we have made in this study raises the possibility of preventing these problems by offering a new treatment to patients at risk at an earlier stage.”