By Trishanya Raju
What would you say if I told you that there is a drug that has been tested on mice, and succeeds in not only preventing them from getting Type 1 diabetes, but also actually reverses the condition if it is pre-existing?
Yes, you read me correctly. This drug could be a potential cure for diabetes.
How could it be, you ask? Well it started with a discovery made by Dr. Anath Shalev, of the University of Alabama. Dr. Shalev discovered that Verapamil, which is a calcium channel blocker used to treat hypertension, lowers the level of the protein TXNIP (thioredoxin-interacting protein) in pancreatic beta cells. High levels of thioredoxin have been shown to keep the pancreas' insulin-producing islet beta cells functioning. She then suspected that maybe suppressing TXNIP could be the way to fighting diabetes, and ensuing tests on rodents and islets isolated from humans have only supported her idea.
The drug is now moving into clinical trials, which will involve 52 newly diagnosed patients with diabetes, half of whom will be put on verapamil and half on a placebo. “We have previously shown that verapamil can prevent diabetes and even reverse the disease in mouse models and reduce TXNIP in human islet beta cells, suggesting that it may have beneficial effects in humans as well," Shalev said, announcing plans for the clinical trials.
Although there is still a significant amount of progress to be made before we can actually claim that Verapamil is a cure for the plague that we call diabetes, I’m hopeful as to its prospects, and potential.
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