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Blood pressure drug may be breakthrough Type 1 Diabetes treatment

(abc3340.com)

In Central Alabama's own backyard, UAB researchers have made a possible landmark discovery regarding an FDA-approved drug that's been available to the public for more than 30 years. This significant find for Type 1 Diabetes patients is coming from a common blood pressure medication, a UAB Diabetes expert says.

In a UAB clinical trial, people taking the drug Verapamil for a year needed much less external insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, and their body was able to make more of its own insulin.

UAB Doctor Anath Shalev says, "It's very remarkable, because so far, none of the treatments that we have available has been able to do that."

Dr. Shalev has made researching Diabetes her life's work. She told ABC 33/40 the most recent revolutionary research is a discovery 16 years in the making.

During the study each of the clinical participants "were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes within three months of their start in the trial and continued with their prescribed insulin pump therapy throughout the duration of the study."

Twenty-four adults between the ages of 18 to 45 participated in the year-long study. Eleven were given a pill form of Verapamil, and 13 received a placebo pill. The findings were groundbreaking.

"Subjects on Verapamil, in addition to their insulin regimen, had a better ability to produce their own insulin than those who did not," says Dr. Shalev.

Anthony Bolus is a Bessemer pharmacist who regularly fills prescriptions for Type 1 patients. Bolus says patients' constant need to regulate their bodies can drain much more than their insulin pumps.

Bolus says, "I mean out of pocket [cost] is hundreds of dollars by itself, just the insulin itself for a 30-day supply. One of our long-acting insulins can cost around $300 to $400. To cut the amount of insulin our patients use in half...will cut tremendous costs on their end."

As of now, no children have been involved in the testing, but Dr. Shalev doesn't rule it out for future research.

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