One drug to treat diabetes and heart disease?

January 11, 2012 3:13:44 PM PST
One of the most threatening diseases facing millions of Americans is Type 2 Diabetes. This blood sugar disorder affects many organs in the body, including arteries and the heart, and it's a double threat. Now researchers are looking for ways to treat both heart disease and diabetes at the same time.

It's estimated that 50 million Americans are suffering from both heart disease and diabetes. It's not only too many lives affected, but also costing billions of dollars to treat.

The new idea that might address both problems at the same time is a drug called glipins.

There are few people who could benefit from the potential of this new type of drug more than Montoya Ortiz, who battles both heart disease and diabetes.

That means a grueling daily schedule of exercise, counting carbs and calories and timing medications perfectly.

"Some have to be taken at this time. Some have to be taken with food. Some don't have to be taken with food, and then you get, you know, you read the small print and it says don't take this kind of medication with this kind of medication," Ortiz said.

It's that kind of tedious schedule that keeps some diabetics from taking medications properly. When they don't, heart disease often follows.

"Most of the mortality in type 2 diabetes is related to coronary artery disease and vascular disease," Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan of Ohio State University Medical Center said.

Doctors may be on the verge of treating both diabetes and heart disease, with one single drug. In lab tests, researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center found that the drug, known as alogliptin (pronounced: al-oh-glip-tin), not only lowered blood sugar, but also lowered blood pressure. It cut cholesterol by 30% and inflammation by 50%. It even cut down on the amount of plaque build up in the arteries.

"It was pretty striking. I think what we were surprised by was the magnitude of benefit. There was a significant reduction in plaque," Dr. Rajagopalan said.

In the coming year, Montoya will log hundreds of hours in the gym and endure two thousand more needles just to deal with her conditions. By the time her son is her age, diabetes will affect 1 out of every 3 of us in this country, which is why developing a single drug to address two debilitating diseases is getting such urgent attention.

Alogliptin is already being tested in diabetic patients worldwide, though scientists are still working to fully understand all its benefits.

Experts say the cost of treating both diabetes and heart disease costs the U.S. a staggering 618-billion dollars each year. The study by Ohio State researchers was recently published in the journal Circulation.


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