A “cheap dirty” diabetes drug could be the answer to effective coronavirus treatment, the researchers believe.
Metformin, sold as Glucophage, costs about 3 p of a pill, with some doctors in the Chinese Wuhan, where the pandemic started, calling it a “miracle drug” after studies show it reduces the body’s inflammatory response.
Inflammation is one of the main causes of death for those who have the bug killer, with the drug, administered to type 2 diabetics since the 1950s, potentially crucial during the development of a vaccine.
Earlier this month, Wuhan experts revealed that the death rate among patients with viruses taking diabetes medications was much lower than those who were not.
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The study involved analyzing data from 104 metformin patients who had been hospitalized with the virus between January and March and was compared to 179 other records with the same severity of the disease.
Only three metformin patients died compared to 22 not with the drug, with results mirroring a similar study conducted by the University of Minnesota in the United States.
Metformin is already used by the NHS and is also being tested as a treatment for heart disease and breast cancer.
Suzy Birkett was given the drug as part of a trial at the private cure oncology clinic in London and believes it has effectively battled breast cancer.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “It is a very powerful treatment, but it has been slow to take.
“Who will pay for big tests for regulatory approval when there will be no profit in the end? Metformin is cheap.”
However, the researchers also believe that the combination of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine – emergency approval from the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted for use by people who are seriously ill in hospital with Covid-19. – could prove fatal when combined with metformin.
The two drugs are generally used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases and have shown promise in helping to cure some cancers.
But a study by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Anirban Maitra led to the deaths of between 30% and 40% of mice that die when the drug was combined with metformin, reports Diabetes.co.uk.
No vaccine has yet been approved for commercial use against Covid-19, but over a dozen vaccines from over 100 candidates worldwide have been tested on humans.
Most recently, the Chinese military received the go-ahead to use a vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics after clinical trials have shown that it was safe and has proven effective, the company said on Monday.