Blood pressure drug could reverse diabetes condition

Fri, 23 Mar 2012
A common drug taken to treat high blood pressure could help to reverse a diabetes-related condition involving keywordbeta cells in the pancreas, it has emerged.

The medication, called verapamil, was found to reverse the diabetes-related death of pancreatic beta cells. Pancreatic beta cells secrete insulin to help manage levels of blood sugar in the body, but start to die off when people develop either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, calcium channel blockers contained in verapamil could reverse this death in the beta cells.

The study, carried out at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US and published in the journal Diabetes, showed that verapamil may have slowed down diabetes in previous clinical trials, and that it could offer clinical benefits to doctors exploring the use of calcium channel blockers to treat diabetes and also hypertension.

Senior author on the study Anath Shalev said "We long have felt that finding an oral medication that inhibits beta cell TXNIP expression would represent a major breakthrough, and now we have the first study showing that a drug already proven safe in years of clinical practice may halt the development of diabetes."

She added "The debate now should begin as to whether physicians should consider verapamil an additional treatment to protect beta cells in patients with both hypertension and diabetes, similar to the use of ACE inhibitors for kidney protection."
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