Researcher: old drug may offer weapon against diabetes

Back in the late 1990s, Harvard researcher Steven Shoelson stumbled on to some old evidence that the drug salsalate may be a cheap and effective therapy to use against diabetes. An article published in a German medical journal in 1876 suggested that the therapy could help control blood sugar. And since then Shoelson and researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have produced positive data in small trials involving Type 2 diabetes.

"It's a cheap, generic drug that has the potential to add to our tools for improving glucose control in diabetics," the NIH's Myrlene Staten tells the Wall Street Journal. "Improving glucose control lowers the cost of diabetes treatment and the risk of complications and hospitalizations."

Shoelson believes that there is a link between inflammation and diabetes, a controversial point among researchers in the field. The researcher says that inflammation can make insulin less effective. And one of the reasons he became excited about salsalate is that it's an anti-inflammatory. 

If Shoelson is proved right, his research may have a particularly profound effect on the way patients are treated in developing countries, where people often can't afford new, branded therapies.

- read the article in the Wall Street Journal