Experimental Heart Drug Shows Unexpected Benefit In Preventing Onset of Diabetes

Canadian researchers report that succinobucol, an anti-oxidant drug used to treat cardiovascular inflammation, appears to have a beneficial effect in lowering the risk of developing diabetes. Even patients who already have diabetes, they say, achieve better blood sugar control while on the drug.

Researchers tested the drug over two years on 6,144 people, of whom 37 percent had diabetes. All of the test subjects either had been hospitalized for heart attack or unstable angina, a dangerous heart rhythm condition. Although half of the participants received succinobucol and the other half a placebo, all of them were taking other heart-related drugs, such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and statins.

Unexpected Results

One of the drug’s unexpected side effects caught scientists’ eyes. While succinobucol itself seemed to have no effect on test subjects—those taking and those not taking the drug had the same incidences of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular events—they discovered that it reduced the odds of developing diabetes by 64 percent.

Among the non-diabetes participants at the start of the study, 4.2 percent of those not taking succinobucol later developed the disease, compared to 1.64 percent of those taking the drug. Researchers also noted that people with diabetes who entered the study achieved better blood sugar control if they took succinobucol than people with diabetes who didn’t take the drug.

The study’s author, Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, director of the research center at the Montreal Heart Institute in Canada, said that while succinobucol did not achieve its goal of reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, its effect on reducing new cases of diabetes and helping glycemic control opens the drug up to new therapeutic possibilities.

Succinobucol is a chemical relative of probucol, a cholesterol-lowering drug that was taken off the market in the United States in 1995 because of side effects.

Source: The Lancet

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