(RxWiki News) In many cases, drugs can have harmful side effects. They also can have unintended uses and benefits. Sometimes a drug designed to treat one disease has the power to treat an entirely different disorder.
Byetta (exenatide), a drug for type 2 diabetes patients to control blood sugar levels, also has a rapid anti-inflammatory effect.
"Byetta may have many benefits for diabetes patients."
According to Paresh Dandona, M.D., of the University at Buffalo and senior author of the study, the rapid, anti-inflammatory effect of Byetta is important because it could prevent atheroslcerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes, and gangrene in diabetes patients.
Byetta's anti-inflammatory effect is significant, but even more noteworthy is how quickly the drug takes effect. The drug had a brief anti-inflammatory effect within just two hours of a small injection, explains Ajay Chaudhuri, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo and lead author of the study. Dr. Chaudhuri adds that it is rare for a drug to have such a rapid and substantial effect.
Dr. Dandona says that no other drugs have such a strong and fast anti-inflammatory effect except for corticosteroids and insulin.
Dr. Chaudhuri explains that obesity is an inflammatory state, and weight loss on its own can have an anti-inflammatory effect. However, the anti-inflammatory effect in this case happened independent of weight loss. In other words, the anti-inflammatory effect was a direct result of the drug and not caused by weight loss.
These promising results have led Dr. Dandona and his fellow researchers to plan further studies on Byetta. They want to see if the drug can be used for acute inflammatory situations in intensive care units, or after heart attacks and strokes. In these situations, a rapid anti-inflammatory effect is essential. Thus, a drug like Byetta may be useful.
Twenty-four obese patients with type 2 diabetes participated in the study. All of the participants were already on insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
The study was supported by a grant from the Amylin Corporation and Eli-Lilly, the pharmaceutical company that sells Byetta. It is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.