A 'miracle drug' used for diabetes and weight loss maintenance may play a role in reducing coronavirus deaths

A 'miracle drug' used for diabetes and weight loss maintenance may play a role in reducing coronavirus deaths
Crystal Cox/Business Insider
  • A preprint study of 6,000 people found that the diabetes drug metformin could reduce COVID-19 death risk in women who take it regularly.
  • The researchers said the drug's anti-inflammatory and immune system suppression properties could potentially prevent the body from going haywire when a person has COVID-19.
  • Previous research suggests metformin could also be effective for weight-loss maintenance.

Metformin, a low-cost diabetes drug that has been dubbed a "miracle" because of its potential anti-aging properties, could also play a role in preventing the worst effects of the coronavirus, according to a preprint study from the University of Minnesota.

The study, which was one of the largest observational studies of coronavirus risk factors so far, found that obesity and diabetes were two big risks for COVID-19-related death, the Minnesota Star Tribune reported.

But they also observed that metformin may lower death risk from the virus between 21% and 24% among women who already took the drug to to help with their diabetes and blood sugar levels.

Lead study author Dr. Christopher Tignanelli told the Star Tribune that people shouldn't seek out metformin as a virus cure, but that his team's findings open new avenues for non-vaccine solutions for infectious diseases like COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Tignanelli said metformin may help with COVID-19 infections because it reduces inflammation and lessens the body's immune system response. In some cases, people with COVID-19 have an overreactive immune response to the virus, which can result in death.


Metformin has also been shown to help with weight loss maintenance

Previous research suggests metformin is also helpful for long-term weight loss maintenance.

An April 2019 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found metformin could help people lose weight for the long term.

Researchers believe the drug — which is prescribed for pre-diabetics, diabetics, and off-label to people with PCOS — may also help patients who have lost large amounts of weight keep it off.

The study compared the effects of metformin versus diet and exercise for weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

"Taking a pill a day is a lot easier than going to diet and exercise for 15 years. Almost no one can achieve it," Dr. Kishore M. Gadde, the lead study author, previously told Insider.