The key to Dealing with Diabetes is to take care of yourself, and Channel 8 wants to help you with that. More>>
Nearly 21 million people in the United States are living with diabetes. About 95-percent of them have type 2 diabetes. There are several drugs to help control blood sugar levels but none target the cause of the disease. Now, an old drug could be the solution.
Treating type 2 diabetes has been a tough challenge for doctors.
Dr. Steven Shoelson, diabetes researcher, said, "None of the currently available medications are perfect. And one of the biggest problems we have with the current medications is they don't really treat the basic problem."
But Dr. Shoelson says the drug Salsalate could change that. It's an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis that's been around since the 1800s.
"It's strange that we are using a drug that has been around for a long time to treat a disease that has been around for a long time," Dr. Shoelson said.
New research shows a protein that triggers inflammation is turned on in overweight people. The inflammation leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Salsalate shuts off that protein.
Dr. Shoelson continued, "We think getting at the cause may have beneficial effects that we have not even anticipated."
An early study shows the drug significantly improves blood sugar levels. "The people who got no drug at all had absolutely no change in their blood sugars," explained Dr. Shoelson
Jerry Silva was in that early study and saw his blood sugars drop. "I tend to be the kind of person who does not like to take medications if I don't have to," he said.
Since the study ended, he has lost 20 pounds. Instead of drugs, he now controls his diabetes with diet and exercise.
"If I cannot walk around anymore or if my body stops responding positively to natural ways of reducing it, this is something i would definitely consider taking," Silva added.
A large study is now underway to find out how much impact this drug will have. The drug also lowers triglyceride levels, and Dr. Shoelson says it may reduce heart disease risk as well.
Researchers are currently recruiting patients for the larger trial on diabetes at 16 sites across the country.
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