Aug 16, 2018 | Updated: 01:42 PM EDT

Possible Cure for Diabetes to Undergo Clinical Test on Humans

Nov 06, 2014 06:51 PM EST

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Risk factors for Diabetes have been increasing over the years with the number of new studies revealing more links to the causes of the said disease. This, including genetic factors, the usual sedentary lifestyle across all generations and the alarming obesity cases in the U.S, in particular, are main causes of the illness.  Diabetes also puts a person at risk for blindness, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, tuberculosis and limb amputation, and other life-threatening diseases that a suitable cure is necessary to lessen number of casualties and lessen expenditures related to the disease.

Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have been studying diabetes for at least the last ten years, and their studies have shown that a common blood pressure drug totally reverses diabetes in mice. In mice with established diabetes and blood sugars over 300 mg/dL, Verapamil "eradicated" the disease.

This sheds light to finding a possible cure to the disease, and a new clinical trial is set to see if it can do the same for humans, according to recent reports.

Dr. Anath Shalev, lead researcher with UAB's Comprehensive Diabetes Center, said that previous research indicates high blood sugar could be associated with the overproduction of a protein known as TXNIP. The said protein could stop insulin production.

"That is a proof-of concept that, by lowering TXNIP, even in the context of the worst diabetes, we have beneficial effects. And all of this addresses the main underlying cause of the disease-beta cell loss. Our current approach attempts to target this loss by promoting the patient's own beta cell mass and insulin production. There is currently no treatment available that targets diabetes in this way," Shalev said.

"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," Shalev explained.

And a new study also shows that Verapamil could lower TXNIP levels. This could be an effective alternative diabetes treatment.

Reports said that one unique feature of this trial is that "it will not include the use of any immunosuppressive or immune modulatory medications, which carry severe side effects and are used in most type 1 diabetes trials."

"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," the researchers said, explaining that the study is supported by years of data in both human and mouse models.

Dr. Fernando Ovalle, director of University of Alabama-Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic, and co-principal investigator of the study said, "Currently, we can prescribe external insulin and other medications to lower blood sugar, but we have no way to stop the destruction of beta cells, and the disease continues to get worse."

"If Verapamil works, however, it would be a truly revolutionary development in a disease affecting more people each year to the tune of billions of dollars annually," he added.

Also according to Medical News Today, "if the trial is successful, it could be the first 'cure' for an incurable disease that affects 12.3 per cent of Americans over the age of 20 and which costs the nation $245 billion each year."

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