In the first study to examine whether the calcium-channel blocker verapamil lowers glucose in humans (as it does in mice
), this old drug that has long been used to treat hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, and migraine was indeed associated with a lower fasting serum glucose in diabetic patients.
The observational study of a subset of close to 5000 patients who had diabetes and were participating in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke
(REGARDS) study, by Dr Yulia Khodneva, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and colleagues, was published online
February 12 in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.
Among these patients who had type 1 diabetes or late-stage type 2 diabetes (ie, were taking insulin or insulin plus an oral antidiabetic agent), those who also received verapamil had fasting serum glucose levels that were 24 mg/dL lower than their peers who were not receiving verapamil (P =
This 24-mg/dL difference in fasting serum glucose is "dramatic," since it is roughly equal to an HbA1c drop from 8% to 7% (where 7% is the American Diabetes Association treatment target), Dr Khodneva told Medscape Medical News
However, the current study is observational and very preliminary, she stressed.
More answers should be forthcoming about 18 months from now when results start to emerge from "the repurposing of verapamil as a beta-cell survival therapy in type 1 diabetes" randomized controlled trial
that fellow researchers at UAB are conducting.
That study has so far enrolled 20 adults aged 18 to 45 with recent-onset type 1 diabetes (of a planned enrollment of 52 such patients), to see whether 12 months of daily oral verapamil will improve insulin production.
"I think that if this is a positive trial, it will be widely published," and it's probably going to affect clinical practice right away, Dr Khodneva speculated.