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Metformin could play a part in future RA treatment

Scientist Dr Lorna Gallagher, Trinity College Dublin, spoke about the role of metformin on synovial fibroblasts and the findings of a research project she is involved in, during her oral presentation at the ISR Autumn Meeting.

She reported that insulin resistance is seen in some patients with RA, and it has now been established that there is a clear link between metabolism in the cells and inflammation. Metformin has the potential to reverse inflammation process in RA synovial fibroblasts, the new research has shown.

Speaking to the Medical Independent, Dr Gallagher said the research she is carrying out ultimately aims to enhance the success of current treatments for RA. “A lot of them have side-effects; the nausea with methotrexate is a big issue, so we are try to bring in an alternative ‘helper’ so they can reduce the dosage of methotrexate by adding in a very widely-used drug, ie metformin, and thus help improve the quality of life for RA patients and maximise their results.

“While this is currently just a theory, we are seeing some very positive results in metformin decreasing the inflammation from the fibroblast cells in RA samples. Metformin has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease and pancreatic risks, so there is definitely a link there and the metabolism is involved in everything, which is a very hot topic at the moment,” Dr Gallagher said.

Dr Gallagher won the 2014 ISR Young Investigator Award for her work on the potential role of metformin in RA.

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