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Clinical trials

JDRF-funded clinical trial drug slows type 1 diabetes in young people

An existing drug, called verapamil slowed the progression of type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed children and adolescents in a clinical trial funded by JDRF.
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Kate Lawton 8 March 2023

A woman takes the drug verapamil, used to slow progression of type 1 diabetes

An existing drug, called verapamil slowed the progression of type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed children and adolescents in a clinical trial funded by JDRF. This breakthrough brings us closer to our goal of having disease-modifying therapies widely available for people with type 1 diabetes.

What did this research of verapamil find?

The clinical trial – known as the CLVer trial, published in this paper – found that a daily tablet of verapamil slowed the rate of insulin-producing beta cell destruction in young people newly diagnosed with type 1 a year after their diagnosis. This was measured by C-peptide levels, which were 30% higher in the group who were given verapamil than the control group who received a non-active placebo.

A disease-modifying therapy for type 1

Dr Sanjoy Dutta, Chief Scientific Officer of JDRF International, said: “Safe, effective therapies are urgently needed to delay disease progression in people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an area of high priority for JDRF. The CLVer study is the second trial showing that verapamil, an inexpensive and widely used blood pressure medication, can preserve beta cells in the new onset period, making us one step closer to our goal of having disease-modifying therapies widely available for people with type 1 diabetes.”

How did the study work?

The JDRF-funded researchers randomly split their young participants into two groups. One group received a verapamil pill to take once a day for a year and the other group took a daily placebo pill. The researchers calculated what dose of the drug to give each participant depending on their weight, so smaller children were given a lower dose.

Throughout the study, the participants gave blood samples to measure their HbA1c as well as taking two-hour mixed-meal tolerance tests to measure their C-peptide levels. The participants also wore continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and the data from these was used to determine their percentage of time their blood glucose levels were in the target range.

Who was in the research study?

The clinical trial involved 88 children aged 8 – 17 years. All participants started taking verapamil within 31 days of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Join a UK clinical trial of verapamil

The Ver-A-T1D Study – part of the JDRF-funded Type 1 Diabetes Immunotherapy Consortium is recruiting participants across England and Wales. To take part, you must be aged 18-44 years who were diagnosed with type 1 in the last six weeks. The study involves taking a verapamil tablet once a day for a year.

Access more information about Ver-A-T1D and get involved.

What is verapamil?

Verapamil is an existing drug used to treat high blood pressure. It is available on the NHS to treat heart conditions like angina (chest pain) and irregular heart rate by improving blood flow to the heart.

Is verapamil safe?

The researchers checked their participants’ blood pressure, heart health and liver function throughout the study as these are known side effects of verapamil. The researchers described the drug as ‘well tolerated’, meaning most of them didn’t experience any of these side effects.

Backed by previous research in adults

In 2018, results were published showing verapamil increased C-peptide levels in a small clinical trial of adults newly diagnosed with type 1.

More JDRF-funded research into verapamil

We have awarded the researchers a grant to monitor the participants in this trial for another three years to see if the benefits to C-peptide levels continue. We are also funding a researcher called Professor Colin Dayan in the UK to test whether giving people newly diagnosed with type 1 verapamil and teplizumab could be even more effective. Read more about Colin’s research project.