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Diabetes cell research is done at one of the Robarts research labs in London, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (Celine Zadorsky / CTV London)

The drug Empagliflozi has recently become available in Canada to help regulate blood sugar levels for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

“Normally our kidneys will take glucose from our urine and pump it back into our blood stream. This is not a good thing with people with Type 2 diabetes because we are trying to reduce their sugars so this drug blocks that pump,” says Dr. David Hess from Robarts at Western University.

He says it appears this drug may have additional positive effects.

“Patients administered Empagliflozin showed reduced cardiac events like heart attack, stroke and heart failure.”

In collaboration with researchers from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the team studied the effects this drug has on cardiovascular health by looking at the effects diabetes has on reducing stem cell efficiency.

“We were able to show there were three specific cell types that were increased after Empagliflozin treatment for six months compared to placebo almost to the point where these levels were back to normal like in healthy controls,” Hess says.

This could be a game changer for the millions of people living with diabetes, he says.

“There are 240 million people worldwide that have diabetes and 80 per cent of those patients will die from cardiovascular complications.”

Hess says the findings from this study are positive so now the next steps will be to run a longer clinical trial to see if patients continue to have positive effects from this drug beyond six months.

“We are also looking at combining other mechanisms to look at if this drug, in combination with a weight loss regiment or in combination with another diabetes treatment, whether we can improve upon the results we’ve had so far.”