Why are we doing this study?
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease and stroke that often occur together. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes — blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during pre-diabetes. Research has also shown that if you take action to manage your blood glucose when you have pre-diabetes, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. We think that chloroquine may help reverse or slow the progression of pre-diabetes. We also think that it may improve blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Can “pre-diabetes” be reversed?
No medications are approved for pre-diabetes at this time. Treatment for pre-diabetes consists of losing a modest amount of weight through diet and exercise. People with pre-diabetes are also at a 50% increased risk for heart disease or stroke, so if you have this condition, it is also important for your doctor to help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Stopping smoking is also important in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Unfortunately, losing weight can be hard to do, and sometimes is not enough to prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to diabetes.
Dr. Semenkovich and colleagues have spent years studying the problem of pre-diabetes. They have discovered that chloroquine improves pre-diabetes, blood pressure, and prevents vascular disease in certain animals and appears to have a beneficial effect in humans.
What have the animal studies shown?
In a study done at Washington University, Dr. Semenkovich and colleagues found that just a small dose of chloroquine lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol buildup in arteries and improved glucose tolerance in certain mice.