A common blood pressure drug could potentially treat type 1 diabetes, according to new research.
Testing on diabetic mice, the researchers discovered that verapamil not only slowed the decline of beta cells, but restored the mice’s ability to produce insulin. Based on these findings, clinical trials are to be performed on people with type 1 diabetes in the near future.
The trial is the result of years of laboratory research. A team led by Dr. Anath Shalev at the University of Alabama at Birmingham discovered that having diabetes causes a patient to overproduce a protein known as TXNIP.
Excessive levels of this protein causes premature cell decay, making it increasingly difficult for the body to properly regulate blood glucose.
Even if only subtle benefits were derived from the trial, this would still be a significant success. Dr Shalev explained: “We know from previous large clinical studies that even a small amount of the patient’s own remaining beta cell mass has major beneficial outcomes and reduces complications.
“That’s probably because even a little bit of our body’s own beta cells can respond much more adequately to very fine fluctuations in our blood sugar — much more than we can ever do with injections or even sophisticated insulin pumps.”
The research was funded primarily using a £1.3 million grant from the JDRF.

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