A clinical study conducted by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers revealed that oral verapamil, a readily available and commonly used drug to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, can also improve the pancreas' insulin secretion in children with newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetes (T1D). The positive effects of verapamil were discovered through the Hybrid Closed Loop Therapy and Verapamil for Beta Cell Preservation in New Onset Type 1 Diabetes (CLVer) clinical trial. IU was one of six pediatric diabetes centers in the U.S. to participate.
Patients with T1D have pancreases that make little to no insulin, the hormone that manages blood sugar and produces energy. While a T1D diagnosis can come at any point in life, many patients are diagnosed as children or young adults.
The results of the trial are incredibly promising and exciting for researchers and patients. Not only is verapamil affordable, it's also a familiar medication that is well-tolerated with a favorable safety profile. I believe many families and children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will benefit from what we discovered during the CLVer study."
Anna Neyman, MD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and a principal investigator in the CLVer trial
When compared with a control group that received a placebo pill, patients who took one oral verapamil per day noticed insulin secretion improved by 30 percent over the first year of their T1D diagnosis. Extensive findings from the CLVer study were recently published in JAMA and announced at the International Conference on Advanced Technologies and Treatments of Diabetes (ATTD).
With funding support from JDRF, the trial included 88 participants between 8 and 17 years of age. All patients began the trial within 31 days of their T1D diagnosis and were randomly assigned to receive daily oral verapamil or a matching placebo. The CLVer clinical trial also assessed glucose management approaches with promising results.
"It's a remarkable time in the world of diabetes research," said Emily Sims, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and investigator with the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research. "The CLVer trial and other clinical studies provide instrumental data that ultimately gets us one step closer to our goal of eradicating type 1 diabetes."
Carmella Evans-Molina, MD, PhD, MS, director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases and Linda DiMeglio, MD, professor of pediatrics, contributed to the trial along with Neyman and Sims. The group and other IU researchers also participated in a TrialNet clinical study that recently led to the Federal Drug Administration's approval of teplizumab, the first immunotherapy drug to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in at-risk individuals by an average of almost three years.
Forlenza, G.P., et al. (2023) Effect of Verapamil on Pancreatic Beta Cell Function in Newly Diagnosed Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes. JAMA. doi.org/10.1001/jama.2023.2064.