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The William Harvey Research Institute - Barts and The London

Cheap diabetes drug may reverse blood vessel damage and prevent multi-organ failure

A BHF funded study involving researchers from Queen Mary University of London has found that metformin-a cheap drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes- could be used to stop blood vessels from leaking and reverse the damage caused during sepsis and multi-organ failure.

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Metformin prescription pills.

A molecule known as CD31 sits on the endothelial cells of healthy individuals, lining the blood vessels and helping to maintain their structure to prevent leaks. Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection and claims the lives of 52,000 people each year in the UK. The inflammation in sepsis harms the blood vessels that supply vital organs with vital nutrients and oxygen and can lead to multi-organ failure. 

The study found that CD31 is shed from the lining of blood vessels in people with sepsis, causing the blood vessels to leak and become damaged. The team have identified a mechanism by which this happens and found that Metformin activates a ‘survival’ molecule that mimics the actions of CD31 –ultimately rescuing the leaky blood vessels and preventing severe injury.

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

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