The title says it all, and its impact may be lasting and significant in the quest to find a cure for an incurable disease.
Scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham led by Dr. Anath Shalev are investigating the potential result of verapamil -- a drug used to treat high blood pressure -- in diabetics. Initial trials on lab mice have so far turned out positive, with the results showing a total removal of the disease.
The study has been ongoing for more than 10 years at the university's Comprehensive Diabetes Center. To bolster its move to pursue human trials, the study team was reported in a news release
to have received a research grant amounting to over $2 million over the course of three years from Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a major charitable institution that focuses on Type 1 diabetes research.
According to the study, the success of the experiments may be attributed to the action of the blood pressure drug on TXNIP, a protein in the human body that is produced in excessive amounts due to high blood sugar. Once the TXNIP levels increase above the threshold, the risk of pancreatic beta cell death becomes greater, eventually leading to the malfunction of the cells and inability of the body to create insulin, worsening the diabetic condition.
The researchers believe that with the use of a well-known and oft-prescribed drug, people who take verapamil to treat diabetes will not experience adverse effects. "This trial is based on a well-known blood pressure medication that has been used for more than 30 years and is unlikely to have any severe side effects," said Dr. Shalev. The study could pave the way for a real cure for Type 1 Diabetes. "We want to find new drugs - different from any current diabetes treatments
- that can help halt the growing, worldwide epidemic of diabetes and improve the lives of those affected by this disease ... Finally, we have reason to believe that we are on the right track," Dr. Shalev added.