UAB cures diabetes in lab mice, preparing for human trial

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A new study at the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center may prove beneficial for thousands of Alabamians. Researchers have cured diabetes in lab mice using a commonly prescribed blood pressure medication, Verapamil. “We found that we could reverse the disease completely,” said Dr. Anath Shalev, director of the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

Several studies in the past have cured diabetes in the early phases, but failed during the human clinical trials. “None of the therapies are actually addressing the underlying cause, namely the destruction and loss of insulin-producing Beta cells,” said Dr. Shalev. That’s where Verapamil differs. In the lab mice, Dr. Shalev said those treated with the drug not only showed reversal of the disease, but also showcased increased levels of Beta cells. “So, it’s really curing the underlying cause,” said Dr. Shalev. 

Beta cells are killed when higher levels of blood sugar manifest an increased presence of the protein, TXNIP. TXNIP, which is naturally in the body and not harmful at normal levels, slows the insulin production until it ultimately kills the Beta cells. Verapamil lowered the TXNIP levels to the point where Beta cells could potentially have started rejuvenating; however, Dr. Shalev said it’s not clear yet whether more Beta cells were being produced, or rather the environment was improved for them to become more clear in readings. 

While other tests have struggled with the transition from animal models to human models, Dr. Shalev said this one could be different because of its target. “TXNIP is extremely well-conserved across species, almost identical in rat, mice, and human,” she said. Most of the other tests focused on the auto-immune system, which is drastically different between humans and mice, according to Dr. Shalev. The human clinical test, which is being labeled, “the repurposing of Verapamil as a beta cell survival therapy in type 1 diabetes,” will begin in early 2015. It will be a double-blind study, with 52 participants. Half will be given placebo and half will be given Verapamil. They will take one tablet orally once daily. The study will last a year. It is being funded by a $2.1 million grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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7 Replies


    Or just change your diet!

  • Leptin injections worked on mice and many eyes glittered at the prospect of another trillion dollar drug. Failed on Humans so all the euphoria was very short lived.

  • It seemed so intuitive at the time a no brainer and was going to be the holy grail of weight loss, but fell to earth with a resounding thump when it just didn't work.

    It just illustrates that monkeying around with an exquisite feedback system with sledgehammer medicines is a very bad idea.

  • Problem is that all the research is centered around finding the next patented-for-twenty-years trillion dollar drug. Along the way comes few rigged research that FAT is bad (for mice of course). Additional one's look at relation between stratosphere and diabetes, height and diabetes, skin color and diabetes, distance from equator and diabetes. They ignore the most important cause -- HIGH CARBS. Why? Because they don't want to look like a clown when the results are out -- like it happened in the Look Ahead protocol study.

  • Have a look at the latest from Colpo if you want egregious examples of fudged and compromised research. The results to the poor bewildered so and so's in the firing line makes me glad of an internet connection:

  • Yes Mike!

    We are lucky to have an internet connection and also the ability to think beyond ADA/AMA/AHA and their cousins.

    Only a mass uprising (Arab spring types) against the Drug industry's approach towards health can change things. But, the problem is that if such a thing happens SWAT will get hyper active.

  • Interesting news even though this is dated before 2015. So what has become of the human clinical trials since they were slated for early 2015? Could you continue to keep us abreast of this line of diabetes research.  Thanks for the effort to post the news. One area of concern is the negative side effects of Verapamil - of course drawbacks also apply to any pharma drug, not just Vpl.  I googled up for side effects and the following is a list I got from:

    Severity: Major

    Less common

        Blue lips and fingernails

        blurred vision

        burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings

        chest pain


        coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum

        difficult, fast, noisy breathing, sometimes with wheezing

        dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting   position suddenly

        increased sweating

        lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting

        pale skin

        shortness of breath

        slow or irregular heartbeat

        sore throat


        swelling in legs and ankles

        unusual tiredness or weakness



        cold sweats

        feeling of warmth

        redness of the face, neck, arms and occasionally, upper chest

    Severity: Minor

        Difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)


    Less common

        Acid or sour stomach


        difficulty in moving



        joint pain

        muscle aching or cramping

        muscle pains or stiffness



        stomach discomfort, upset, or pain

        trouble sleeping

        unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness

        swollen joints

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