Blood pressure drug completely reverses diabetes in animal models

A common blood pressure drug, verapamil, was shown to completely reverse diabetes in animal models, according to research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

TXNIP, a protein that is increased in beta cells in response to diabetes, can lead to cell death in the pancreas and prevent the body from producing insulin. Verapamil, apparently, can reduce TXNIP in human islet beta cells, suggesting the drug may help to reverse the diabetes process.

"Currently, we can prescribe external insulin and other medications to lower blood sugar; but we have no way to stop the destruction of beta cells, and the disease continues to get worse," said Fernando Ovalle, co-author of the study.

Type 1 diabetes trial set for 2015

With a $2.1 million grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), researchers are set to conduct a clinical trial in 2015 to see if verapamil can reverse diabetes in humans.

The trial will include 52 people between the ages of 19 and 45 who have had a type 1-diabetes diagnosis within the past three months.

Patients will be given either verapamil or a placebo for one year while undergoing insulin pump therapy.

"If verapamil works in humans, it would be a truly revolutionary development in a disease affecting more people each year to the tune of billions of dollars annually," Ovalle said.

Source: University of Alabama, Birmingham

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