Substance Given to Odysseus in Greek Mythology Could Reduce Symptoms of Diabetes

Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There is no treatment for the condition as a whole, which means experts have to treat the symptoms of the condition.

However, a new study by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, has revealed a drug which is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, can reduce key markers of inflammation, a sign of metabolic syndrome.

Studies have previously revealed a substance called galantamine, which is derived from flowers mentioned in Greek mythology to combat memory loss — reduced inflammation in mice with obesity. Obesity is also a risk factor of diabetes.

Experts decided to study the effect of the substance on humans with metabolic syndrome.

“It’s been very tough to come up with a treatment that targets all of the components of metabolic syndrome, which is becoming a pandemic because it stems from obesity,” said Dr. Pavlov, corresponding author of the research.

He said: “By repurposing galantamine, it means we don’t have to start from zero in order to establish its safety.

“We already know it’s safe.”

Galantamine belongs to a class of drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain.

In Greek mythology, the snowdrop flower serving as a source of galantamine was given to Odysseus as an antidote to memory loss and delirium.

The Feinstein Investigators worked with a team of colleagues led by Dr. Fernanda Consolim-Colombo from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil to perform a clinical study of the effects of galantamine in patients with metabolic syndrome.

In the study, 30 patients with metabolic syndrome received doses of galantamine daily for 12 weeks and another group of 30 patients received a placebo during this same timeframe.

Levels of inflammatory molecules indicating patients’ metabolic syndrome-associated inflammation were tracked.

At the end of the 12-week treatment period, those treated with galantamine experienced significantly reduced levels of pro-inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules compared to placebo patients.

The experts said more research was needed, including longer clinical trials — and trials which could examine galantine’s effects on type 2 diabetes.

“These findings illustrate that it may be possible to treat inflammation in metabolic syndrome,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, a co-author of the study and president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute.

“Bringing down inflammation and insulin resistance may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications.”



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