04:30am Tuesday 19 November 2019

Reading scientists discover diabetes drug may also prevent a broken heart

heart made up of pharmaceutical drugs

The research team, led by Professor Jon Gibbins from the University’s Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR), found that rosiglitazone¹ inhibits blood clot formation by 50%.

Professor Gibbins and his team have discovered that rosiglitazone, used to treat type 2 diabetes (the type caused by obesity), also inhibits platelet function – thereby preventing thrombosis.  Crucially, the team have made substantial progress on understanding how this works, paving the way towards the development of new therapies to prevent thrombosis. 

Platelets are tiny blood cells that trigger the blood to clot when the blood vessel is damaged, a normal protective function that prevents excessive blood loss.  In diseased blood vessels (such as those associated with obesity, diabetes and coronary artery disease) this triggers thrombosis, the formation of blood clots within the circulation. Thrombosis leads to heart attacks and strokes which together are the leading causes of death in the western world.

Professor Gibbins said: “We already know that patients treated using these types of medicines experience a reduced risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems, but we now have a clearer idea why. Rosiglitazone acts on a target molecule, which we have found to be present in platelets, and suppresses their function. This suppression makes the platelets less active and so reduces the blood clotting response. We hope that this may lead to new therapies to prevent the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes.”

Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, are the cause of approximately 190,000 deaths each year in the UK alone. Professor Gibbins has been examining the role of blood cells in blood clotting and thrombosis, which cause heart attacks and strokes

Earlier this year, Professor Gibbins and his team were awarded almost £1 million pounds by the British Heart Foundation, to continue their cutting-edge research exploring new and better ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes.


For all media enquiries please contact James Barr, University of Reading Press Officer on 0118 378 7115 or by email on j.w.barr@reading.ac.uk

 Notes for Editors:

 ¹ Tested at levels comparable to blood concentrations following rosiglitazone administration (1 µmol L-1) and under arterial flow conditions

This work was supported by research grants from Heart Research UK, British Heart Foundation and The Wellcome Trust.  

The paper has been accepted online but not yet been published in print. A pdf of the paper is available upon request.


Moraes, L. A. et al. 2009. Non-genomic effects of PPARg ligands: inhibition of GPVI-stimulated platelet activation. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. 8:1-11


The University of Reading’s Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR) is a multidisciplinary centre that brings together scientists from a wide range of research fields to work to understand the development of cardiovascular diseases, and the underlying obesity-related metabolic diseases from which they develop. Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, are the cause of approximately 190,000 deaths each year in the UK alone, with similar incidence rates across Europe, and North America, and are becoming an increasing burden in rapidly developing nations with very large populations. Substantial progress has been made as a result of biomedical research in the last 3 decades that has resulted in a 50% reduction in the death rate in patients who suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Please visit http://www.reading.ac.uk/icmr/icmr-home.aspx


The University of Reading is rated as one of the top 200 universities in the world (THE-QS World Rankings 2009).

The University of Reading is one of the UK’s top research-intensive universities. The University is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing research council grants worth nearly £10 million from EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, AHRC and BBSRC. In the RAE 2008, over 87% of the university’s research was deemed to be of international standing. Areas of particular research strength recognised include meteorology and climate change, typography and graphic design, archaeology, philosophy, food biosciences, construction management, real estate and planning, as well as law.

Standards of teaching are excellent – the University scored highly in the National Student Survey 2009.  87% of Reading students responding to the survey stated they were satisfied with the quality of their course.

The University is estimated to contribute £600 million to the local economy annually.

University of Reading is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience. www.1994group.ac.uk

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