N-acetylcysteine - A New Theraputic Application

Diabetes affects 3-4% of the population worldwide and the incidence of type-2 diabetes. It has been estimated that cardiovascular events (strokes, heart attacks) account for up to 80% of deaths in patients with diabetes, whilst occlusion of blood vessels is partly responsible for the very high incidence of foot and leg amputations amongst this patient group. Platelet activation and the resulting thrombosis is the most common cause of ischaemia associated with cardiovascular events and aspirin is regularly prescribed to help reduce the risk of thrombotic events. However, the benefits of aspirin in diabetes in particular have been called into question. In addition, many patients with diabetes are resistant to the effects of aspirin, whilst others are intolerant to the drug because of its gastric toxicity.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has long been used in paracetemol overdose, where its affected are mediated through conversion to the powerful endogenous detoxifying agent, glutathione. NAC has also raised considerable interest as an antioxidant, both in its own right and as a presursor to GSH, which is one of the most abundant antioxidants synthesised by cells.

A combination therapy including both aspirin and NAC is under development in a joint project involving NHS Highland and UHI Millennium Institute. Results using blood samples taken from diabetic patients has provided evidence that NAC and a lower dose of aspirin than currently prescribed is just as effective as the current aspirin dose given in reducing platelet aggregation, and even more so in patients with diabetes, i.e the combi-pill is effective. A patent application has recently entered the PCT phase of prosecution protecting the combined therapy claiming benefits that include:

  • Improved antithrombotic effects compared to aspirin alone
  • Reduction in aspirin dosage to reduce gastric toxicity
  • Improved clinical outcome
SHIL is currrently seeking commercial partners to develop the application to a commercial product and provide further clinical data.

If you would like to request more information about this project please click here.

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