CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System made a big discovery with a new, and potentially lifesaving, treatment for certain groups of people at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

Specifically, this may help protect patients who are obese or diabetic.

New research shows that a second-generation insulin-sensitizing drug known as MSDC-0206K could protect patients from inflammation and dangerous glucose levels, which can rise due to COVID. According to the study, those who are at risk urgently need a new treatment option that does not cause a spike in their blood sugar.

"In order to break this dangerous relationship between blood glucose and COVID, we need a new drug which can simultaneously suppress the severe disease caused by COVID as well as lower the blood and glucose," said Jie Sun, PhD and professor at the UVA School of Medicine.

This research took Sun and his colleagues three years, but Sun says this drug still has to undergo a clinical test trial before it is approved for public use. And that could take years.

"We are not so desperate. And so, the process of clinical trial and approval slowed down. And we cannot anticipate how many years it will take, but we think it will take a few years,” said Sun.

Sun said that this drug will be a pill and not a vaccine.