July 24th, 2024

To Your Health: Researchers find another use for diabetes drug

By Gillian Slade on August 28, 2017.

A drug used to treat people with Type 2 diabetes could be used in future to reduce pressure on the brain after a traumatic head injury or stroke and there are potential benefits for certain types of headaches, according to research done at the University of Birmingham, U.K. and published in Science Translational Medicine.

During the three-year study, using animals, researchers looked at whether the GLP-1 agonist drugs, that are used to treat diabetes and obesity, could reduce pressure on the brain of those animals.

The current treatment can have severe side effects which leads to almost half the patients deciding to stop the medication, said Dr. Alexandra Sinclair, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, in a press release.

The research shows “that the GLP-1 agonist extendin-4 significantly reduces brain pressure rapidly and dramatically, by around 44 per cent with significant effects from just 10 minutes of dosing — the biggest reduction we have seen in anything we have previously tested. What’s more, we found that the effects last at least 24 hours,” says a press release.

Increased brain pressure is common in emergency situations such as traumatic brain injury, hydrocephalus and stroke, and is also the feature of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). IHH causes debilitating daily headaches with pressure around the nerves in the eye. It also causes permanent vision loss for about 25 per cent of those affected who are not treated.

The research is being called a potential game-changer.

The results of the research is to be presented at the International Headache Society meeting to be held in Vancouver in early September. It will also be shared at a meeting of the British Endocrine Society in the UK in November.

The research was carried out in collaboration with Birmingham Health Partners, the University of Copenhagen, and the Department of Neurology at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

The research was funded by a variety of supporters including the National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council, the West Midlands Neuroscience Teaching and Research Fund and the University of Birmingham Research Development Fund.

The University of Birmingham is now to begin a clinical trial to test GLP-1 agonist drug in patients with raised brain pressure.

Here’s to game changing research and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her by email on call 403-528-8635.

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