Obstetrics & gynaecology

Obesity intervention needed before pregnancy

New research from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute supports the need for dietary and lifestyle interventions before overweight and obese women become pregnant.

Diabetes

Diabetes medication may protect against a common cause of blindness

Researchers from Taiwan have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who took a common diabetes medication, metformin, had a significantly lower rate of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study suggests that the anti-inflammatory ...

Diabetes

New way to prevent heart disease in type 1 diabetes

Scientists reveal the mechanism which allows a commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes to prevent heart disease in patients with type 1 diabetes–and could lead to new treatments.

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Metformin

Metformin (INN, pronounced /mɛtˈfɔrmɨn/, met-fawr-min; originally sold as Glucophage) is an oral antidiabetic drug in the biguanide class. It is the first-line drug of choice for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, in particular, in overweight and obese people and those with normal kidney function. Evidence is also mounting for its efficacy in gestational diabetes, although safety concerns still preclude its widespread use in this setting. It is also used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome, and has been investigated for other diseases where insulin resistance may be an important factor.

When prescribed appropriately, metformin causes few adverse effects—the most common is gastrointestinal upset—and is associated with a low risk of hypoglycemia. Lactic acidosis (a buildup of lactate in the blood) can be a serious concern in overdose and when it is prescribed to people with contraindications, but otherwise, there is no significant risk. Metformin helps reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and is not associated with weight gain, and is the only antidiabetic drug that has been conclusively shown to prevent the cardiovascular complications of diabetes. As of 2010[update], metformin is one of only two oral antidiabetics in the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines (the other being glibenclamide).

First synthesized and found to reduce blood sugar in the 1920s, metformin was forgotten for the next two decades as research shifted to insulin and other antidiabetic drugs. Interest in metformin was rekindled in the late 1940s after several reports that it could reduce blood sugar levels in people, and in 1957, French physician Jean Sterne published the first clinical trial of metformin as a treatment for diabetes. It was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1958, Canada in 1972, and the United States in 1995. Metformin is now believed to be the most widely prescribed antidiabetic drug in the world; in the United States alone, more than 48 million prescriptions were filled in 2010 for its generic formulations.

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