Human trial identifies verapamil as effective type 1 diabetes therapy

A new human trial has found that a common drug used to treat high blood pressure for the past three decades may help promote insulin production and reduce hypoglycemic episodes in adults with recent-onset type 1 diabetes.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center, revealed that regular oral administration of verapamil – a high blood pressure medication approved for medical use in 1981 – allows patients to safely produce higher levels of their own insulin, limiting their need for insulin injections to regulate their sugar levels. This groundbreaking discovery is the first non-immunosuppressive therapeutic approach to target loss of beta cell function in type 1 diabetes.

“The data collected from our clinical trial gives us every indication to believe that individuals with type 1 diabetes have the promise of a treatment approach that would reduce their external insulin requirements and improve their blood sugar control and quality of life, thanks to the effects that verapamil has in promoting the body’s own beta cell function,” says Dr. Anath Shalev, director of UAB’s Comprehensive Diabetes Center and principal investigator of the trial.

In 2014, Dr. Shalev’s UAB research lab received a $2.1 million grant from JDRF to conduct a clinical trial to examine the effects of the drug. The verapamil clinical trial monitored 24 patients aged 18 to 45, each over the course of one year. All participants were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within three months of their start in the trial and continued with their prescribed insulin pump therapy throughout the duration of the study.

Dr. Shalev’s research marks the first time that verapamil has been tested for safety and efficacy in treating type 1 diabetes.

“While this research is not an end-all cure for type 1 diabetes,” continues Dr. Shalev, “these findings are getting us closer to disease-altering therapies that can enable individuals with type 1 diabetes to have more control over their disease and maintain some of their body’s own insulin production.”

For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes news visit the Research News section on our website.

Lets turn type one into type none