Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found verapamil, a blood pressure medication, can be effective in reversing diabetes in animals.
Now a human trial is set to begin.
UAB News quotes Anath Shalev, director of the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center, who says “We have previously shown that verapamil can prevent diabetes and even reverse the disease in mouse models and reduce TXNIP in human islet beta cells, suggesting that it may have beneficial effects in humans as well.” The team was awarded a $2.1 million grant to the human trials, set to begin in 2015.
Medical News Today explains that Shalev and her team had long known about TXNIP and its presence in higher levels in the beta cells of those with Type-1 diabetes, a disease that prevents sufferers from producing insulin and leads to dangerously high levels of blood sugar.
Verapamil has been found to reduce the presence of TXNIP, and in doing so “insulin production can restart, and diabetes reverses.”
WIAT News says that while diabetes has been “cured” before, there’s a difference in the way this drug approaches treatment. It quotes Shalev as saying “None of the therapies are actually addressing the underlying cause, namely the destruction and loss of insulin-producing Beta cells,” and that in targeting exactly that, verapamil therapy is “really curing the underlying cause.”
Another thing in this trial’s favour is that where many animal trials fail to produce workable results in humans, Shalev says “TXNIP is extremely well-conserved across species, almost identical in rat, mice, and human,” which means results from the work are more likely to find success.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, Type-1 diabetes is a disease that affects only about 5-10 percent of sufferers, and is typically treated by monitoring food consumption and taking insulin-boosting injections. Though it typically develops at a young age, it is not impossible that it develops later in a person’s life.