UAB to Test Diabetes Drug That Could Reverse the Disease

A study done at University of Alabama at Birmingham has indicated that that the drug verapamil which is commonly prescribed for blood pressure can completely reverse type 1 diabetes in animal research subjects. A three-year grant that totaled more than $2 million from JDRF has been issued so that the researchers can do a clinical trial in 2015 in order to determine if this drug can have the same results in humans.


The trial will begin in early 2015 and has been the result of more than 10 years of research by researchers at University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center. The trial will focus on specialized cells in the pancreas which are known as beta cells. The beta cells produce the insulin that is required for the body to be able to control the blood sugar. UAB scientist have proven from years of research that high blood sugar results in the body producing too much of a protein known as TXNIP, which is a response of the body to diabetes. Previously it was not known if TXNIP was important for beta cell biology. Having too much TXNIP in the pancreatic beta cells can result in the cells dying and hurts the body’s ability to produce insulin. These conditions result in the progression of diabetes.


The researchers on the study have found that verapamil can lower the levels of TXNIP in the beta cells to the point where when diabetic mice were treated with the drug, the diabetes went away completely. Previous studies have even shown that verapamil can prevent diabetes as well. The researchers have also indicated that verapamil offers a treatment option for dealing with diabetes that has not been tried before. Beta cell loss is one of the major underlying causes of diabetes.


The trial is set to include 52 people between the ages of 19 and 45 and within three months of receiving a diagnosis for type 1 diabetes. The patients will be split into two groups. The experimental group will receive verapamil as a treatment while the control group will receive a placebo as a control. Both groups of study participants will still continue with their insulin pump therapy.


In addition, the patients will receive a continuous glucose monitoring system that will allow them to be able to take readings for their blood sugar levels at any time of the day. If the results of this trial are successful, verapamil may possibly offer an effective treatment for diabetes at sometime in the future.

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