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Anath Shalev, M.D.
Anath Shalev, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center, launched TIXiMED in 2021 to translate her lab's discoveries into an oral medication that limits the need for insulin and improves quality of life for patients with diabetes. Human trials could begin in late summer 2023.

For many people who have Type 1 diabetes, life can become a seven-letter word: insulin.

“One of the repeatedly expressed challenges of those with diabetes is to be completely dependent on daily injections of insulin or insulin pumps,” said Anath Shalev, M.D., director of UAB’s Comprehensive Diabetes Center (UCDC) and professor in the Department of Medicine. Shalev has spent the past two decades pursuing a new treatment option — one that can actually reverse the effects of diabetes. She has found something so promising that it convinced her to do something she had always resisted: start a company.

At TIXiMED, which launched in 2021, “our team is ultimately aiming to provide an additional oral medication to limit the need for insulin and help manage glucose control and improve quality of life,” Shalev said. That medication could enter human trials as early as late summer 2023.

“We tried to find other ways of doing it”

Twenty years ago, Shalev identified a protein involved in the beta cell death behind diabetes: TXNIP. At that point, Shalev was a researcher at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She knew that long years of careful experiments lay between this discovery and a drug that could treat patients.

A decade later, at UAB, Shalev and her team identified a common blood pressure drug that could cut TXNIP production in half. They received funding from a foundation, JDRF, to conduct a clinical trial of the blood pressure drug verapamil. The success of that trial paved the way for more studies, including one published in March 2022 that followed patients with Type 1 diabetes for two years after they started taking verapamil. Trial participants taking verapamil required less insulin than those who did not, and other Type 1 diabetes-induced changes were reversed as well.

Read More at the UAB Reporter

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