Arthritis Drug Helps Diabetes

BOSTON Mary Ann Provost's pain from diabetes and arthritis nearly stopped her from suiting up for one of her favorite activities.

"I was seriously doubting whether I was going to do any golf," she told Ivanhoe. Now doctors believe relief may be found in these pills.

"I think it's a miracle drug," Provost said. "I really do."

The drug called salsalate is currently approved to treat joint pain, but researchers say it may have a dual purpose for those with type 2 diabetes.

"We've shown that using the drug for short periods of time can lower blood sugars both before people eat and after they eat and their average blood sugar measurements over time," Allison Goldfine, M.D., clinical research head at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Mass., explained to Ivanhoe.

Doctors say just like it reduces inflammation in joints, salsalate does the same in other tissues. That in turn, may lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

After a little more digging, doctors realized they had landed on a path that was forged more than 100 years ago. A medical journal dating back to 1876 reported using salicylate, the simple form of salsalate, to treat a patient with diabetes.

"It's one of those rare moments in doing science where we actually can say, 'Ah, ha! We made a discovery!' There's something new here," Steven Shoelson, M.D., Ph.D., a medical researcher at Joslin Diabetes Center said.

Provost's blood sugar levels are stable and healthy and her arthritis is under control.

"I'm a different person," she described.

Doctors say salsalate has a good safety profile and is inexpensive. Broader studies on the drug were just completed in 13 states. Researchers plan to release the findings in a couple of months. A much larger trial is planned for later this year and will be conducted at 20 sites across the nation.



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