February 10 2016. On February 9, 2016, the journal Cardiovascular Diabetology published the results of research conducted by Jolanta Weaver at Newcastle University and colleagues which provides evidence for a benefit for the diabetes drug metformin in heart attack recovery among diabetic patients. Use of metformin has been associated with a reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease in trials involving subjects with type-2 diabetes, however, its protective mechanism had until now remained undefined.
"The outcome of heart disease interventions in patients with diabetes is much worse in comparison with nondiabetic individuals," noted Dr Weaver who is a Senior Lecturer in Diabetes Medicine at Newcastle University. "As a result there is a demand for improved treatment approaches to enhance the outcomes of those with diabetes in order to increase heart attack survival rates."
In research that utilized umbilical cord-derived stem cell cultures, metformin was discovered to affect genes involved in angiogenesis: the formation of new blood vessels. (New blood vessel formation is delayed under the conditions of low oxygen and high glucose that occur in diabetic heart attack patients.) It was determined that metformin suppresses several angiogenic inhibitors while enhancing the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A.
"It is believed that our study is the first report describing the effect of the physiological concentration of metformin as seen in patients," Dr Weaver announced. "Furthermore, our study concentrated on the time period vital during a heart attack when, with new therapy, we can help patients most."
"Our research is exciting as it can instantly make a difference to the treatments we are exploring, offering a new approach to heart disease in diabetes and new therapies may now be developed," she added.