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Can magnesium reduce risks of diabetes complications?

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Published on 24 January 2024

Can magnesium reduce risks of diabetes complications?
Can magnesium reduce risks of diabetes complications?

Researchers have launched a multi-centre clinical trial to investigate a new treatment for preventing diabetes complications in people with type 1 diabetes.

The collaboration between the University of Sunderland, in partnership with St Andrews University and the University of Leeds, pulls together world-leading expertise from across the UK to uncover key biological mechanisms underpinning the origins of blood vessel disease and to test new innovative treatments to halt their progression.

The study has received £400K from national charity Diabetes UK and will start to recruit research participants this year.

People living with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing vascular problems where blockages (blood clots) in the blood vessels limit the flow of blood causing heart attacks and strokes. The research team have previously shown that reduced breakdown of blood clots in people increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The team’s preliminary research, in part funded by Sunderland’s Quality-Related (QR) research funding, has identified that lower blood magnesium levels are associated with reduced blood clot breakdown and that low levels of blood magnesium are common in people with type 1 diabetes. 

Dr Matthew Campbell, Principal Investigator in Human Metabolism in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing is leading the University of Sunderland component of the study and explained: “Although we know that low blood magnesium levels are linked to blood vessel disease we don’t yet know why. This study will help to expose the mechanisms linking blood magnesium levels and blood vessel disease and establish whether prescribing magnesium supplements can help to reduce the risk of this disease. This bench-to-bedside research has the potential to accelerate the development of new low-cost and safe treatments for people with type 1 diabetes.”

Dr Campbell who has published extensively in the area of diabetes and vascular disease says that if the work shows that magnesium supplementation reduces the risk of blood clot formation by making the clot easier to break down, testing blood magnesium status and providing supplements to those with low magnesium levels could become part of routine clinical care in the near future. 

He added: “We are delighted that Diabetes UK have funded this study which acknowledges the urgent unmet clinical need we intend to address and illustrates a significant return on University investment”.  

Dr Faye Riley, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “Every week in the UK, diabetes leads to 590 heart attacks and 770 strokes, stressing the urgent need for new and improved treatments to protect people with diabetes from its devastating complications.

“We’re proud to be funding this important trial, which could help us find a novel and simple treatment that tackles blood clots in people with type 1 diabetes, to help prevent heart attacks and strokes and save lives.”