Trial starts to see if metformin can hold back type 1 diabetes

A combination of metformin and insulin to treat type 2 diabetes leads to a reduced risk of death and major cardiac events compared with use of insulin alone, according to a new study.

Professor Craig Currie of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, in Wales, UK, led the retrospective study which looked at patients who had been treated with either insulin, or insulin and metformin since 2000.

Data covering three and a half years, on average, was analyzed from 12,020 patients. Over this time, the researchers found that using metformin in conjunction with insulin had the potential to reduce mortality and heart attacks in patients.

Professor Currie said that “Since 1991, the rate of insulin use in type 2 diabetes increased more than six-fold in the UK. In more recent years, metformin has also been used alongside insulin as a treatment.”

“Previously, our work showed that increased insulin dose is linked with mortality, cancer and heart attacks. Existing studies have also shown that metformin can attenuate the risks associated with insulin.”

This research delved into these associated risks, and sought an answer as to whether a combination would help reduce these risks of insulin.

“In this research we examined insulin dose along with the impact of combining insulin with metformin. We found that there was a considerable reduction in deaths and heart problems when this cheap and common drug was used in conjunction with insulin.”

The evidence from Currie’s research goes to support the use of insulin and metformin in a combination therapy, but, as Currie said, “further studies are needed to determine the risks and benefits of insulin in type 2 diabetes and the possible benefits associated with the administration of metformin alongside insulin.”