An anti-asthma drug has shown “promising” outcomes in reducing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a recent US study.
Amlexanox is an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic drug, which was developed in Japan in the 1980s and is now commonly used to treat asthma.
Previous research saw the drug being tested on obese mice which caused them to lose weight, while the animals’ insulin sensitivity increased.
This new trial, conducted by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, involved 42 people, half of whom were given amlexanox while the other half received placebo.
The research team measured the participants’ blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, weight and liver fat. Fat cells were also taken from all participants’ mid-sections before and after the trial.
Lead author Dr lan Saltiel explained: “When we looked at the drug-treated group we saw a bimodal distributio, that is, there were some responders and some non-responders.
“We didn’t understand why, so we did a molecular analysis from biopsies of fat cells we took from patients at the beginning and end of the study.
“In the responder group, the level of inflammation in fat was higher than in the non-responder group at the beginning of the study, indicating that there is something about inflammation that predisposes a person to respond. And, what was really amazing was that there were more than 1,100 gene changes that occurred exclusively in the responders.”
Saltiel added his team is buoyed by the findings as they indicate a drug candidate that has not been studied before.
“It’s a new mechanism for a diabetes and fatty liver drug. It’s promising, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered still.”
The researchers are now planning a new study to assess whether patients are likely to respond to amlexanox based on their underlying inflammation.
The findings of the research have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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