Could a common blood pressure drug reverse diabetes?

Could a common blood pressure drug reverse diabetes?

An old drug used to treat high blood pressure may soon have a new use in fighting diabetes. Researchers at UAB Birmingham are hoping the high blood pressure medication Verapamil works as well in humans as it did in mice, by completely reversing diabetes. 

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ryan Teague, 26, knows how important it is to stay on top of his diabetes. He's a registered nurse who has lived with the disease since he was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was only 11-months-old. In addition to regular visits to see a specialist at the Diabetes Center in Ocean Springs, Teague has his own daily routine.

"My day consists of waking up in the morning and checking my blood sugar and acting off of those results throughout the day," Teague said.

But that constant care could become a thing of the past if a new study pans out.

Adult Nurse Practitioner and diabetes specialist KC Arnold takes care of Teague and other diabetes patients on the coast. She's watching the study closely.

"This is hopeful. It has worked in mice and now the human trials are going on, so we just have to wait for the outcome of that," Arnold said.

According to Arnold, the promising clinical trial at UAB is now in phase two.

"This trial will prove or disprove whether taking this medication will produce more insulin."

The keys to the groundbreaking approach are beta cells, which researchers say are critical in type one and type two diabetes. In animal studies, Verapamil lowers levels of a protein called TXNIP in those beta cells.

"When the blood sugar goes up, this protein goes up," Arnold explained. "What Verapamil does is it lowers the TXNIP in the body in the pancreas, and by lowering that protein the pancreatic cells don't get destroyed."

If the results of the UAB Verapamil trial are favorable, Arnold said a bigger trial will follow. And patients like Teague and countless others could one day be free of diabetes.

Teague said it's hard to imagine life without diabetes, but he's encouraged by the study.

"It's exciting. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be watching the research."

The results from this trial should be complete a little over a year from now.  If you'd like to learn more about the details of this trial and others, go to

Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in the US, affecting more than 12 percent of Americans.

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