By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A drug initially developed for a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is being studied for a new purpose — type two diabetes.

The drug didn’t work so well for COPD, but researchers have high hopes its designed effect on inflammation cells will calm a struggling pancreas.

“If the inflammation in the pancreas interferes with the ability of the insulin producing cells to make insulin, blood sugar goes really, really way up,” says Nick Giannoukakis, PhD, of the Allegheny Health Network’s Institute of Cellular Therapeutics.

In this trial of drug safety and how well it works, the study needs 42 patients with type two diabetes who are overweight and on medicine to lower blood sugar. They cannot have severe heart, allergy, or immune system issues. In earlier studies, headache has been the main side effect.

This trial compares placebo and active drug, but everyone will take turns. The people getting active drug, after six months, will then get palcebo. The ones getting placebo after six months will then get study drug.

The researchers will be looking at inflammatory proteins in the bloodstream, short and long-term blood sugar, and other blood tests throughout the study.

“In two years, we will definitely have results,” he says.

If the measures turn out the way the researchers hope, and further studies back it up, this could be a brand new way of treating diabetes.

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