Potential Diabetes Cure Trial Moves Forward

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Scientists who have previously cured diabetes in mice using a common blood pressure medication are now moving forward with a clinical trial for human application.

The study, conducted by Anath Shalev MD, and fellow researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Diabetes Center previously studied the effects of the drug verapamil in mice with established diabetes. They demonstrated how high blood sugar causes the overproduction of a protein called TXNIP, which is increased in beta cells as a response to diabetes. Too much TXNIP prevents insulin production and contributes to diabetes.

Through use of the drug verapamil, which is already indicated for the treatment of high blood pressure, they were able to lower TXNIP levels in beta cells to the point where presence of diabetes was completely eradicated.

Dr. Shalev believes that these findings, unlike previous studies that failed after progressing to the human clinical trial phase, have the potential for application in humans due to this unique approach in targeting TXNIP.

“TXNIP, is extremely well-conserved across species, almost identical in rat, mice, and human,” she said.

The forthcoming placebo-controlled human trial (“The Repurposing of Verapamil as a Beta cell Survival Therapy in Type 1 Diabetes”) will begin recruitment in early 2015, and is looking to recruit 52 people within 3 months of having received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Potential Diabetes Cure Trial Moves Forward
Scientists have previously cured diabetes in mice using a common blood pressure medication.

New research conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has shown that the common blood pressure drug verapamil completely reverses diabetes in animal models. Now, thanks to a three-year, $2.1 million grant from the JDRF, UAB researchers will begin conducting a potentially groundbreaking clinical trial in 2015 to see if it can do the same in humans.

The trial, known as “the repurposing of verapamil as a beta cell survival therapy in type 1 diabetes,” is scheduled to begin early next year and has come to fruition after more than a decade of research efforts in UAB's Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

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