Go to main content

Impressive Results Show Verapamil Preserves Insulin-Producing Cells in Newly Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes

The low-cost drug verapamil, a widely available generic drug for blood pressure, was shown to preserve insulin-producing beta cell function in young people, aged 7-17, who were recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The CLVer study tested whether improved blood glucose control using a hybrid closed loop insulin pump (also known as an automated insulin delivery or AID system) and/or verapamil preserves beta cell function one year after diagnosis. The study was presented Feb. 24 at the Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD) in Berlin. The trial showed that verapamil, but not better blood glucose control, improved beta cell function over the year-long study. 

In October, the FDA approved the drug Tzeild (teplizumab) for people with diabetes antibodies but who did not yet have type 1 diabetes. This therapy was the first approved medicine to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes by an average of 2 years.

The CLVer study offers further hope for researchers by showing that another medication can have additional impact in type 1 diabetes, and it lays the groundwork for further study. By showing preserved c-peptide levels in the study participants, the trial demonstrated that taking verapamil improved beta cell function. These results suggest yet another possible step toward the ultimate goal of delaying or curing type 1 diabetes.

The published results demonstrate the progress being made in identifying ways to change the lives and outcomes of those living with T1D, according to a statement from JDRF, who helped fund the study. The organization said that the impressive results “advance our understanding and provide an important foundation for additional research.”

Additionally, although AID users had greater time in range of 78% compared to non-users’ 64%, which is a 3.4 hour/day difference, the trial found that AID did not provide a significant improvement in insulin secretion.

 “Safe, effective therapies are urgently needed to delay disease progression in people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Sanjoy Dutta, chief scientific officer at JDRF. “This is the second trial showing that verapamil, a cheap and widely used blood pressure medication, can preserve beta cells in the new onset period. The CLVer trial moves us one step closer to our goal of having disease modifying therapies widely available for people with type 1 diabetes.”