Dexamethasone as COVID-19 treatment less effective with diabetes patients


The widely available steroid dexamethasone may not benefit diabetes patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to new research published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography.

Research has shown that dexamethasone can significantly reduce the chance of death from COVID-19. However, because of the way dexamethasone is transmitted throughout the body, it may be less effective in patients with diabetes, according to the study.

A research team led by scientists at the University of Virginia studied the way a blood protein, serum albumin, picks up and transports dexamethasone throughout the body. The team used powerful x-rays from the Advanced Photon Source to get a full picture of the structure of serum albumin combined with dexamethasone.

Low levels of albumin may already make it more difficult for some patients to get the benefits of dexamethasone. The research shows that patients with diabetes may experience the same difficulty, since high blood sugar changes the way albumin binds with dexamethasone. These findings, researchers said, may lead to physicians rethinking how they prescribe the drug for certain patients.

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