Diabetes drug shows promise treating lupus

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Published: Feb 13, 2015

Researchers from the University of Florida have found, from researching for two years, that a drug commonly used by diabetic patients has shown possibility of curing Lupus, the chronic disease. The drug called ‘metformin’ was tested in mice along with human cells in the laboratory and has shown positive results.

The findings were posted in Science Translation Medicine, the journal. The researchers believe that this medicine could become the savior of many from the chronic disease of Lupus, which does not have a cure yet.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease where due to hyperactivity of the immune system, the normal and well-functioning tissues of the bodies are attacked. This results in damage caused to the skin, heart, lungs, kidney and joints.

Lupus cure from Diabetes drug

According to Lupus Foundation of America, over 16000 Americans become victims of Lupus, every year. LFA states that around 5,000,000 people all across the globe are expected to be suffering from Lupus. While men and women, both, suffer from it, the chances of women acquiring it during child-bearing are more.

Our bodies, when functioning normally, produce antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses to make our immune system strong. When a person is diagnosed with Lupus they lose the ability to differentiate between antigens, like virus and bacteria, and healthy tissues. Due to dysfunction of the antibodies, skin, heart, lungs and/or kidneys are damaged.

According to Laurence Morel the WBCs (white blood cells) secrete antibodies that feed on glucose present in our bodies. She conducted some tests and found that combining metformin with glucose inhibitor resulted in slowing down of metabolism process and the attack on the ‘good’ tissues. The specialist in Immunology and Pathology, from University of Florida Medical School said that the test was done on mice using WBCs from patients suffering from Lupus which resulted in normal functioning of the WBCs. Alliance for Lupus Research and National Institutes of Health funded this research.

She found her inspiration from a research done on cancer, said Morel. In this research the growth of cells causing cancer was slowed down using a drug. She believed that from the various options of drugs that inhibit growth in cells, she chose the ones which showed positive results in cases of mouth cancer.

She said that the initial two combinations which she tried, had worked. Calling that an ‘educated guess’ Morel added that she was trying out various other combinations of drugs for a more perfect result.

The disease, lupus, is now being treated with immunosuppressant drugs and steroids. Using these drugs is having negative side effects on the patients. The disease, which results in blood clots, lung and heart diseases, currently, has no cure. She believes that using an already existing drug will impart no additional charges for the patients. She adds that a research on this drug will also prove to be cost-effective and, hence, will speed up the process of clinical trials.

When asked about her next step, she replied saying that the research will continue until the cure was found.

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