Could a common blood pressure drug completely reverse diabetes?
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, raising risks for heart attack, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputation. But researchers who have shown that a common blood pressure drug totally reverses diabetes in mice are about to begin a new clinical trial to see if it can do the same for humans.
If the trial is successful, it could herald the first "cure" for an incurable disease that affects 12.3% of Americans over the age of 20 and costs the nation $245 billion each year.
The key to the groundbreaking approach that has been proven effective in mice are beta cells, which the researchers explain are "critical" in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These cells are progressively lost in the wake of the disease due to programmed cell death, though the precise triggers for the deaths were previously unknown.
The researchers, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and led by Dr. Anath Shalev, have been working on this research for over a decade in UAB's Comprehensive Diabetes Center.
They explain that their previous research has shown that high blood sugar causes an overproduction of a protein called TXNIP - which is increased within beta cells in response to diabetes. Too much TXNIP in pancreatic beta cells leads to their deaths, stopping the body's efforts to produce insulin and further promoting diabetes.
However, in animal models, the team has found that verapamil - used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches - lowers TXNIP levels in beta cells.
In fact, in mice with established diabetes and blood sugars over 300 mg/ Continue reading