An ingredient found in over-the-counter cough medicines may help lower blood sugar levels and could one day be used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, according to new research published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Researchers at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany, have discovered that the drug dextromethorphan, when consumed, metabolizes into a compound called dextrorphan. This compound is what triggers the insulin release from the pancreas.
The drug suppresses the activity of certain receptors called N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) in the medulla oblongata, located in the brainstem just above the spinal cord. NMDA receptors also are found in the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Researchers say their research shows that when NMDA receptors in the pancreas are suppressed, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion is enhanced.
Researchers say more studies are needed to back up their findings. The only clinical trial involved just 20 participants. However, if the research is expanded, it could open new doors in the development of safer diabetes treatments.
Dextromethrophan is often noted as “DM” on the labels of cold medicines. And, researchers note, the drug is associated with few serious side effects – especially compared to the many drugs that are often prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes. Many of those medications have been linked to cancer risks. For example, Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer, and newer diabetes drugs Januvia and Byetta increase the risk of acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Source: The Market Business