Washington, Jan 29 : A new study conducted by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center has revealed that an inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug salsalate, which is similar to aspirin, might prevent type 2 diabetes.
According to the researchers, the drug can fight the disease by lowering blood glucose and reducing inflammation.
They said that the study is promising enough to spur three more trials to see if salsalate can also treat diabetes by lowering blood glucose, slow the progression of coronary artery disease in those with metabolic syndrome, and perhaps prevent diabetes in those at high risk.
"This is exciting because salsalate has a good safety profile after many years of use, is inexpensive to make and appears to have the potential to lower blood glucose. It may be useful in preventing diabetes," said Allison B. Goldfine, M.D., lead researcher on the study, Head of Clinical Research at Joslin and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.
She said that it has long been known that high doses of aspirin could reduce blood glucose levels, but the risk of stomach bleeding is too high to allow for this treatment to be used.
She also noted that it has also been known for several years that inflammatory markers and proteins are elevated in people with diabetes and that aspirin can reduce inflammation.
In animal studies, it has been shown that aspirin could be effective, but since it could not safely be used in humans at high doses, the researchers thought of designing a new drug.
They tried salsalate, a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication that is similar to aspirin but does not cause bleeding in patients at risk for diabetes.
In the double-masked, placebo-controlled study of 20 obese young adults, the researchers found that salsalate substantially reduced blood glucose levels as well as inflammation, and, as a result, may eliminate their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
"Our study was the first to look at the metabolic changes that occur when you give salsalate to obese people who have not yet developed diabetes and we're really encouraged by what we found," she said.
The study is published in the February issue of Diabetes Care.