A human clinical trial has found that common blood pressure drug called verapamil can decrease insulin requirements and hypoglycaemic episodes in adults with recent onset type 1 diabetes.
The study, conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center, revealed oral verapamil to be safe and effective.
The researchers observed that the drug acts by activating the patient’s own beta cell function and insulin production, allowing them to rely less on external insulin. This mechanism is said to be a first for diabetes.
Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center director Anath Shalev said: “The data collected from our clinical trial gives us every indication to believe that individuals with type 1 diabetes have the promise of a treatment approach that would reduce their external insulin requirements and improve their blood sugar control and quality of life, thanks to the effects that verapamil has in promoting the body’s own beta cell function.”
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved assessment of 24 patients aged between 18 and 45 who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within three months of starting the study.
These participants continued to use their prescribed insulin pump therapy during the trial, and received either verapamil or placebo for one year.
The verapamil and placebo groups were compared for their total daily dose of insulin, amount of insulin generated, percent change in insulin production and HbA1C levels, among others.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that verapamil cannot be an end-all cure for the condition, however, it will allow more control and maintain patient’s own insulin production.
The team plans to further test the drug in paediatric patients with type 1 diabetes, and in adults who have been living with and/or diagnosed with the condition longer than three months.
They also intend to evaluate verapamil’s effects on type 2 diabetics.