Scientists are in the process of developing a new class of drug that fights both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Scientists claim that the wonder drug has the potential to be more effective than statins.
The drugs both raise the level of "good" (HDL) cholesterol and stabilises blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Scientists investigating the effects of this type of drug in trials of patients with adult-onset diabetes believe it could give them "real benefits".
Many are put on statins to lower the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in their blood, which is proven to reduce the number of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.
However, now scientists are examining a new class of drug that work in a different manner, called cholesterol ester transfer proteins (CETPs).
Early trials of one such drug, called torcetrapib, showed that when given in conjunction with a statin to lower levels of bad cholesterol, levels of good cholesterol rose by 67 per cent. Those given the statin alone saw no such change.
HDL, or good cholesterol, is important because it has the protective effect of slowing the hardening of the arteries.
Patients on both drugs had blood sugar levels some seven per cent lower compared to those given just the statin. Insulin resistance, another measure of diabetes, also improved.
However, in 2006 this trial was stopped because it was found that giving both drugs resulted in more cardiovascular problems and deaths. Now, however, scientists have determine that these negative effects were the result of torcetrapib alone, and not the entire class of drugs.
Two other drugs from the same class, called dalcetrapib and anacetrapib, are being developed.
"The possibility that CETP inhibitor drugs may not only reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, but may also improve the control of blood sugar in people with diabetes, is an exciting prospect that may translate into real health benefits for people with diabetes," the Telegraph quoted Prof Philip Barter, of the Heart Research Institute at Sydney University, as saying.