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Blood pressure drug may help prevent up to 60% of type 1 diabetes: Study

The drug, methyldopa, has been used for over 50 years to treat high blood pressure in pregnant women and children

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

A commonly used to control high may also help prevent the onset of type 1 in up to 60 per cent of those at risk for the disease, a study has found.

The drug, methyldopa, has been used for over 50 years to treat high in pregnant women and children, according to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

It is on the World Organization's (WHO) list of essential drugs. But like many drugs used for one condition, researchers found it useful for something totally unrelated.

"With this drug, we can potentially prevent up to 60 per cent of type 1 in those at risk for the disease," said Aaron Michels from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the US.

"This is a very significant development." Michels said.

Some 60 per cent of people at risk of getting type 1 possess the DQ8 molecule which significantly increases the chance of getting the disease.

The researchers believed that if they could block specifically the DQ8 molecule they could also block the onset of the disease.

"All drugs have off-target effects. If you take too much acetaminophen you can hurt your liver," Michels said.

"We took every FDA approved small molecule and analyzed HLA-DQ8 binding through a supercomputer. We searched a thousand orientations for each to identify those that would fit within the DQ8 molecule binding groove," Michels said.

After running thousands of drugs through the supercomputer, they found that methyldopa not only blocked DQ8, but it didn't harm the immune function of other cells like many immunosuppressant drugs do.

The research spanned 10 years and its efficacy was shown in mice and in 20 patients who took part in a clinical trial.

First Published: Sat, February 17 2018. 21:36 IST