Beta Cell Study Searches for More Volunteers

The study will test whether a common blood pressure medication can stop Type 1 shortly after diagnosis.



A study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is testing a drug to stop the body from destroying beta cells at the onset of Type 1 diabetes, and they are casting a wide net to find volunteers, according to a WIAT.com article.

After discovering that Verapamil, a blood pressure medication, could stop the destruction of beta cells in mice, researchers have been testing whether if it will do the same in humans. The study has caught the attention of JDRF, which provided a $2.1 million grant. However, if the study can’t find 40 more people, the results will be inconclusive, according to Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Fernando Ovalle.

The problem is one of timing. Researchers are looking for candidates who are 19-45 years old with Type 1 diabetes. However, the diagnosis must have been made within the past three months of applying to participate; the three-month period is a critical time to reach beta cells before they die off. It’s hard to find participants who meet that criteria, as a new Type 1 diagnosis in adults is fairly uncommon. Also, it’s difficult to find people who have been so recently diagnosed, as might be too busy mastering diabetes self-care to think about participating in studies.

Ovalle says that the potential of this study is significant, and he is confident they have a high chance of stopping the destruction of these beta cells with Verapamil. Only time will tell if the treatment results in mice is translatable to humans.

Study volunteers will be given either Verapamil or a placebo drug for a period of one year, and will need to have their blood drawn on a regular basis. They will also be asked to wear a continuous glucose monitor to record blood-glucose levels on a 24/7 basis. Anybody who is interested in learning more about this study or enrolling can either call at (205) 934-4112, or send an email to T1DM@uab.edu.

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Travis served as a staff writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation in 2015. Previously, he was a staff writer for Insight, a high school newspaper, as well as a copywriter for The Emersonian, Emerson's yearbook.