New Use for Old Drug
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory similar to aspirin may have potential as a treatment for diabetes. This research is reported by experts at the Joslin Diabetes Center.
A drug that has been used for the last century to treat arthritis and pain may hold the key to stabilizing type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Salsalate, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) marketed as Disalcid and cousin to aspirin, lowers blood sugar before and after meals. Because it is an NSAID there are inherent untoward side effects which contradict long-term use.
How it lowers glucose levels is uncertain, however researchers believe the medication reduces the inflammatory process not only in the joints but also throughout the body. Inflammation induces stress which elicits a corticosteroid response. When the body produces corticosteroids glucose levels rise. Stress is a physical and a mental response and in this instance Salsalate mediates the process. Additionally, when individuals are in pain their blood sugar rises, regardless of whether they have eaten.
The use of aspirin, a simpler form of Salsalate, to treat diabetes was first reported in 1876. Little was known of the disease back then, or of aspirin’s broad capabilities. Studies over the years have demonstrated high doses of aspirin have been effective in regulating glucose in poorly controlled diabetics. The Joslin researchers believe the same to be true with Salsalate but with a lower risk of gastric bleeding.
Study participants exhibited a 13 percent decrease in blood sugar levels and a 20 percent reduction in response to oral glucose tolerance testing. As an additional factor and of significance to cardiac patients, the authors noted a 34 percent decrease in circulating levels of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammation marker associated with cardiovascular disease.
The study was quite small, but noteworthy enough to receive funding for broader investigation to determine whether Salsalate can be a tool in preventing type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals.