Heart Disease

New Hope for Heart Health in Type 1

Have you ever taken metformin? It is a commonly prescribed drug for those with type 2 diabetes. Metformin can prevent heart disease in those with type 1 diabetes and even lead to new treatments.

Metformin treatment

Metformin is most commonly used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. It is not commonly given to patients with type 1 diabetes, though.

New research by U.K. scientists has revealed that metformin can promote a type 1 patient’s ability to repair damaged blood vessels by decreasing the presence of “microRNAs” which increases the growth of blood vessels.

This new development is a big deal because it has provided a new understanding of the underlying mechanism. It opens up the possibility of new ways to treat patients with type 1 diabetes who are at a higher risk for heart disease.

Previous studies have shown that the vascular stem cells were improved by metformin. However, this was the first trial to show how metformin improved heart disease and lowered glucose levels.

A previous study already revealed the potential of metformin to slow or delay heart disease, however, this is the first time that the potential of microRNAs has been identified.


Study details

This clinical trial was the first to test metformin for the cardio-protective effects in those who with type 1 diabetes.

In the study, the treatment group consisted of 23 people between the ages of 19 and 65, all diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The trial subjects were free of cardiovascular disease. They were treated with metformin for 8 weeks during the study process.

Patients in the treatment group were matched with a standard group of nine type 1 diabetic patients taking standard insulin. In addition, there were 23 people in the healthy control group without diabetes.

At the start of the study, the microRNAs were detected to be higher in type 1 diabetic patients compared to the control group. However, it was found that metformin treatment reduced the levels of microRNAs.

Moreover, as the levels lowered, there was a corresponding decrease in the amount of circulating endothelial cells, which indicates an improvement in vascular repair.

The team from the study is now working to further explore metformin and different ways to develop new therapies that regulate levels of microRNAs.