For decades, doctors have been prescribing Metformin to patients with type 2 diabetes. It's well tolerated and effective, according to Dr. Laura Ranum, director of the Center for Neurogenetics at the University of Florida.
Ranum says, in trials on mice, the drug has been shown to reduce the damaging proteins found in a common genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS — also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."
"We have this real mechanistic path that we know, if we can turn off the production of these proteins, we are very likely to be getting to the root cause of this type of ALS," Ranum said.
She says Metformin is currently being tested on people, and the results could be available in less than a year.
"It’s some good news," Rannum said. "Drug discovery can be slow. And so, if this really safe drug works for it, it could work for other much larger groups of diseases. That would be really fantastic."
ALS is a progressive disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which control the muscles and the ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe.