Repurposed Asthma Drug Shows Potential in Type 2 Diabetes Treatment


An asthma drug may potentially be useful in treating type 2 diabetes, according to a recently-published study.

An asthma drug may potentially be useful in treating type 2 diabetes, according to a recently-published study.

In the study, published in Cell Metabolism, researchers examined whether the drug, called amlexanox, could be repurposed to treat patients with type 2 diabetes.

Amlexanox is an inhibitor of 2 enzymes, IKKe and TBK1, which researchers found are induced in obese mice in previous studies. The researchers identified the drug after screening 150,000 chemicals to find inhibitors for these enzymes based off the mice studies, in which inhibitors caused the mice to lose weight and caused increased sensitivity to insulin.

In this study, the researchers began with an unblinded safety trial of 6 patients, followed by a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of 42 obese patients with type 2 diabetes. The patients were divided into 2 groups: 1 group received a placebo and the other group received amlexanox for 3 months.

After 12 weeks of taking amlexanox, one-third of the patients with type 2 diabetes demonstrated a clinically significant reduction in blood glucose. Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease also showed improvement.

Patients who responded to the drug exhibited a unique pattern of gene expression changes in response to the drug, consistent with increased energy expenditure. These responders also showed a higher level of inflammation in fat compared to non-responders at the beginning of the study.

Although further research is needed to validate the drug’s use, the data indicate a potential new therapeutic approach for treating type 2 diabetes.


Oral EA, Reilly SM, Gomez AV, et al. Inhibition of IKKe and TBK1 improves glucose control in a subset of patients with type 2 diabetes. Cell Metabolism. 2017. doi: .

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