Malaria drug holds diabetes promise

Thu, 16 Nov 2006
Scientists studying a genetic condition that influences a person’s risk of developing cancer may have stumbled upon a treatment for metabolic syndrome, one of the foremost health problems in the world.

Metabolic syndrome affects up to 25 per cent of adults in America, escalating their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The syndrome remains fairly mysterious (perhaps giving rise to its alternative name ‘Syndrome X.’ It is certainly linked to obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels. The syndrome is also increasing rapidly in both developed and developing countries .

The researchers published their findings in the November issue of Cell Metabolism, and linked the malaria drug Chloroquine with many of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome amongst mice. The study was conducted at the School of Medicine and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The senior author, Clay Semekovich M.D. said: "We just received funding for a clinical trial, and we're very excited to see if the processes activated by chloroquine can effectively treat one of the most common health problems of modern industrialized society. We already know that chloroquine is safe and well-tolerated, and our mouse results suggest we may only need very low, and perhaps infrequent, doses to achieve similar effects in humans."
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