It seems that alternative applications for diabetes drugs are popping up all over the place. We recently discussed clinical research out of Belgium that revealed the unexpected anti-aging properties of metformin – the world’s most used diabetes medication. It actually toughens up cells so they stay stronger and live longer, keeping the signs of aging at bay.
And now, at a recent meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, researcher Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer announced that a different type 2 diabetes treatment called Liraglutide not only promotes weight loss, but also reverses the course of pre-diabetes.
The study followed 3,731 obese and overweight adults who also had at least one other complicating health issue, like pre-diabetes or high blood pressure. All of the subjects exercised and ate 500 fewer calories than usual during the study period – but a randomly assigned half of them were also administered a 3mg dose of Liraglutide, given once daily over the course of 56 weeks. The other half received a placebo.
In the end, the subjects who received the Liraglutide lost an average of 8% of their body weight – that’s about 18.7 pounds. Members of the placebo group lost only an average of 6.2 pounds.
Dr. Pi-Sunyer points out that the Liraglutide results can compete with any commercial weight loss product on the market. Of course, the drug will have to undergo continued testing and satisfy standard pharmaceutical quality control measures before it is approved for a re-branded release.
In addition to its impressive weight-loss powers, Liraglutide also plays a key role in reversing pre-diabetes. The same study investigated the effects of the drug on 2,285 patients with pre-diabetes – 1,528 of them received Liraglutide, while 757 got the placebo.
Nearly 70% of the pre-diabetes patients who took the drug saw blood sugar levels return to normal by the end of the study. Meanwhile, the researchers found that type 2 diabetes developed in three times as many people who took the placebo, as compared to those who received Liraglutide.
Dr. Pi-Sunyer concluded that the weight loss was a key factor in reversing the course of diabetes development – both arms of the study will undergo continued pharmaceutical testing over the next 2 years.
Will Liraglutide soon be available for non-diabetic people who simply want to lose weight? Dr. John Wilding, head of the department of obesity and endocrinology at the University of Liverpool confirms that when administered at a higher dose, the drug can indeed help non-diabetic overweight people shed pounds. It wouldn’t replace a healthy diet or exercise, but the drug could definitely aid in returning patients to healthier, safer weight levels.
While some other popular weight-loss treatments work by reducing the amount of fat the intestines can absorb, Liraglutide works by lowering blood sugar – which in turn helps control hunger and reduce over-eating.
Drugmaker Novo Nordisk, who funded Dr. Pi-Sunyer’s study, has already requested approval for Liraglutide as a weight-loss treatment, pending completion of the phase 3 trials that are currently underway.
Do you think weight-loss drugs encourage dependence in patients who aren’t willing to commit to healthy lifestyle changes?