What if we told you that a blood pressure drug could be effective in reversing diabetes? Well, that seems to be true, because a new study has proved that Verapamil, confirmed for use for high blood pressure patients, could be able to reverse diabetes as well.
The trial had been successful and it will soon move to its human testing phase by 2015 has been claimed in the statements released by Alabama at Birmingham University. Although the drug is normally used for the treatment of high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats though also proven to reduce the levels of TXNIP in pancreatic beta cells as explained by the scientists. The pancreas’s insulin production restarted and diabetes reversed as consequently noted by the researchers.
A protein named TXNIP is involved in the death of insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells) and the higher its levels, the more beta cells are killed.
“We… know that treatment definitely creates an environment where beta cells are allowed to survive, and their survival is a major factor in potentially improving insulin production, so our hope is that we’ll see a similar effect in type 1 diabetes patients to what we have seen in our mice model,” Dr. Anath Shalev who is the lead researcher in the study explained.
Dr. Shalev’s team discovered TXNIP only a few years ago and at that time, they observed that it was present when blood glucose levels were high. They set out to find a drug that could treat it only after they first analyzed if this was the only situation when TXNIP was present.
TXNIP was deleted from the genomes of lab mice by the research team and tested whether they developed diabetes. The condition was not developed by the mice. Verapamil (which acts as a calcium channel blocker) deprived TXNIP of the calcium ions which required to become functional was discovered by the team while performing additional tests.
The research team looks forward to starting their year long human trial phase after the promising results obtained in their animal testing phase. The clinical trial will be a double blind (which means that neither the patients nor the researchers know whether the administered substance in each case is placebo or verapamil). Insulin pump will be continued to be used by the patients during this time.
It would be a complete breakthrough in diabetes science, if human testing proves that substance is efficient.
“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,” Dr. Fernando Ovalle, Director of the University’s Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic said in a statement.
Verapamil working in humans would represent a truly remarkable development in a disease that significantly alters patient’s quality of life and requires billions of dollars annually according to Ovalle.