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Diabetes drug could help reduce cardiovascular disease.

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Image courtesy of University of Dundee

The world’s most commonly used Type 2 diabetes drug, Metformin, may be ‘repurposed’ to treat non-diabetic conditions according to researchers from the University of Dundee.

The international study led by Professor Chim Lang and Dr Graham Rena at the Division of Molecular and Clinical Medicine at Dundee suggests that there is now strong evidence that the drug exhibits an anti-inflammatory action which may prove significant in non-diabetic cardiovascular disease.

Inflammation is understood to contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) but existing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown limited utility in CVD treatment.

Metformin, used by hundreds of millions of people with Type 2 diabetes worldwide, has been in use for over 50 years but continues to reveal significant possibilities for treatments other than those for diabetes.

Other recent studies undertaken at the University of Dundee have shown that metformin may help treat Alzheimer’s disease and could potentially prevent cancer. The drug is also undergoing new clinical trials to determine if it can promote healthy aging.

This report, however, finds that THE anti-inflammatory effects of metformin are exerted irrespective of diabetes status, meaning further testing is required.

Professor Chim Lang, Deputy Head of Molecular and Clinical Medicine Division at the University, said, “The anti-inflammatory effects of the drug were observed, not only in those with diabetes, but also in a cohort of non-diabetic heart failure patients.”

Dr Graham Rena, Senior Lecturer, said, “In this study, we investigated anti-inflammatory effects of metformin, as these may contribute to the CVD benefit of this drug.

“We found that this drug acts differently to NSAIDs, by inhibiting a different target, known as NF-kB. The next steps will be to establish exactly how metformin inhibits NF-kB and to identify specific nondiabetic patient groups that benefit from this anti-inflammatory action.

“These results suggest that metformin suppresses chronic inflammation by a different mechanism to NSAIDs and provide a non-empirical rationale for further testing of the drug in non-diabetic CVD.”

The research, a collaboration with researchers in Paris and Helsinki, is published in Circulation Research, one of the leading international journals in cardiovascular medicine, on Friday, 19thAugust.

The UK arm of the study was funded by the Medical Research Council, Diabetes UK and British Heart Foundation.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said, “These findings offer further evidence that old drugs can perform new tricks. Repurposed medicines can much more quickly benefit patients.

“If this existing and affordable drug can be repurposed as a heart disease treatment, then this is excellent news for the 2.3 million people in the UK living with the condition.

“Research like this is essential to improving how we treat heart disease and preventing the sudden tragedies caused by heart attacks. We look forward to seeing how the research progresses in patient studies.”

Dr Emily Burns, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK, said, “While inflammation may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, current anti-inflammatory drugs (known as NSAIDs) haven’t proven to be effective as a treatment so far. It’s therefore very interesting to see that metformin may have anti-inflammatory properties that work in a different way to NSAIDs.

“We welcome further research to tell us if metformin could be used to treat cardiovascular disease, in those with and without Type 2 diabetes, in the future.

“We’re very pleased to see that Diabetes UK research is having a real impact, exploring the future potential of a drug that already helps millions of people with Type 2 diabetes.”

The paper will be published in Circulation Research and will be available at:

About the University of Dundee in the UK

Award Title:Scots Bachelor of Laws (LLB) OR English Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
Length of Program:Scots / English: 4 semesters completed over 2 years
Prerequisites:Completed 3 or 4 year undergraduate degree in any discipline. Contact KOM for full details
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Founded in 1881, the University of Dundee is a traditional university with a world class reputation in areas ranging from education to politics to psychology and medicine. They are the only Scottish University which offers both English and Scots law, making it easier for you to practice back in Canada.

Over half the University’s research activity takes place in departments graded ‘research of international excellence’. Our staff-student ratio of 6:1 ensures a high level of interaction between staff and students, and career prospects for our graduates are amongst the best in the UK. The University of Dundee has over 18,000 students, of whom 15% come from countries outside the UK including Canada.

University of Dundee Bachelor of Laws LLB Overview

The University of Dundee’s Law School in Scotland is a unique UK Law School. This Law School offer students a choice between two distinct Bachelor of Laws LLB programs:

  • Scots Bachelor of Laws LLB at the University of Dundee – Accelerated 2 Years
  • English Bachelor of Laws LLB at the University of Dundee – Accelerated 2 Years

Not all students will decide to pursue a legal career. The transferable skills developed during the course of the Dundee LLB are extremely attractive to employers in other fields. These include the ability to carry out research effectively, the efficient and accurate analysis of documents, as well as the persuasive presentation of argument, both orally and in writing.

The size of the Dundee Law School means that there is close contact between students and staff. Excellence in teaching is a priority for Dundee. Small group teaching with full time members of staff is guaranteed, as is prompt feedback on written work. Various assessment models are employed, from traditional closed book exams, to online tests, to assessed presentations. Many courses have some form of group work. All modules have an element of continuous assessment.