Human Clinical Trial Reveals Verapamil as an Effective Type 1 Diabetes Therapy


Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Summary: Researchers have discovered a safe and effective novel therapy to reduce insulin requirements and hypoglycemic episodes in adult subjects with recent onset Type 1 diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes occurs as the result of one’s immune system attacking the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin to regulate and maintain optimal blood sugar levels. When beta cells are being destroyed, a person’s ability to produce insulin declines, causing blood sugar levels to rise and making the person more and more dependent on external insulin. The UAB clinical trial discovered that when a patient takes verapamil, beta cell function is preserved, enabling the body to produce more of its own insulin. In 2014, Shalev’s UAB research lab discovered that verapamil completely reversed Type 1 diabetes in animal models and sought to test the effects of the drug in human subjects in a clinical trial. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a safe and effective novel therapy to reduce insulin requirements and hypoglycemic episodes in adult subjects with recent onset Type 1 diabetes. The study findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Diabetes

Anath Shalev. Credit: UAB

The verapamil clinical trial monitored 24 patients age 18 to 45, each over the course of one year. Eleven patients received verapamil and 13 received placebo. All clinical trial 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. Researchers monitored the placebo and verapamil groups’ total daily dose of insulin, the amount of insulin produced, the percent change in insulin production, and their HbA1C levels. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial identified verapamil as a safe, effective, and promising therapy, a groundbreaking finding in the field of diabetes research.

Anath Shalev M.D., principal investigator said, “This trial’s results affirm that we are on the right track and are entering a new phase of discovery as it relates to this disease” and further added, “Diabetes impacts more than 30 million people in America alone, and hopefully our breakthrough will ultimately lead to approaches that can help improve the lives of all those affected by this disease.”


More Information: Fernando Ovalle et al, “Verapamil and beta cell function in adults with recent-onset type 1 diabetes”, Nature Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41591-018-0089-4 


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