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Diabetes drug key to beating organ transplant organ rejection

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Diabetes drug. PHOTO: Newsmax.com

A discarded diabetes drug could be the key to beating organ transplant rejection, a landmark study has found.

One in six heart recipients die within a year, and those that do survive face higher risk of infection, weight gain, cancer and diabetes from their life-long regime of immunosuppressant drugs.

However, a new study by Queen Mary University of London found that by repurposing a drug designed to treat diabetes, they could speed up the process necessary for the blood system to fuse into the new organ. The researchers say this finding could be a game-changer – and a cost-effective one at that, since the drug already exists and has proved in other trials to be safe in humans.

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The drug is designed to increase the activity of an enzyme called glucokinase, which is suppressed in people with type 2 diabetes. For diabetes patients, this enzyme is essential for regulating blood sugar levels.

For those who undergo a transplant, the enzyme is essential to drive the movement of a certain T cell (known as a ‘regulatory T cell’) into human organs. Inside the organ, the T cells build up the immune system, helping it to fuse with the new body, and preventing rejection. The drug had been sidelined for further development for diabetes patients, but a team at Queen Mary University decided to test its effects on transplant patients. Testing the drug on mice, they found that it dramatically increased the flow of regulatory T cells into the new organs.


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