Drug for ‘good’ cholesterol may help control diabetes


Diabetes and heart disease are intertwined in ways that are still not fully understood. The most recent example of this complicated relationship is a study published Monday that finds an experimental medication designed to raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) also appears to control blood sugar and may be helpful to people with Type 2 diabetes.

The drug is called torcetrapib -- and it will never be approved. That’s because, in clinical trials, the drug caused severe side effects even though it did raise HDL cholesterol.

Still, in a review of a major study on torcetrapib, researchers in Australia found that people who took the medication along with a statin (which lowers bad cholesterol) had better blood-sugar control compared with people who took a statin and placebo.


Torcetrapib belongs to a class of compounds called cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors (or CETP inhibitors). These drugs alter cholesterol metabolism in favor of HDL cholesterol creation. But it’s unclear how torcetrapib may benefit blood sugar. Research on compounds similar to torcetrapib, which may not carry the same unacceptable side effects, is ongoing.

“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 study’s lead author, Philip Barter, of the University of Sydney, said in a news release.

The study was published this week in thejournal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn.

Return to Booster Shots blog.