Cheap blood pressure drug might slow diabetes

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A cheap and safe blood pressure drug slows the worsening of Type 1 diabetes, researchers reported Monday.

It’s the first drug that has been shown to affect the course of the disease, also known as juvenile diabetes, which is caused by the body’s mistaken destruction of the pancreatic cells that make insulin.

The treatment is regular injections of insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must regularly check their blood sugar and administer insulin throughout the day. Uncontrolled blood sugar can damage blood vessels and organs, and can kill people suddenly.

The blood pressure drug, verapamil, appears to protect some of the pancreatic cells that are damaged, allowing them to continue producing a little insulin. It’s not a cure, but adults with newly diagnosed diabetes who took the drug had better control of their blood sugar over time, the team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported.

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