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Weight loss drug found to stop diabetes too

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Injection could stop prediabetes from progression

Researchers have discovered a drug that for weight loss that helps prevent type 2 diabetes in 80 percent of people studied.


The diabetes treatment could mean a way to prevent diabetes and reverse prediabetes in addition to helping with sustained weight loss.

The medication works by increasing the amount of the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide) that helps suppress appetite. The peptide also helps the pancreas produce more insulin.

One injection a day could bring blood sugars back to normal, reversing progression of high blood sugar levels that leads to diabetes and the myriad of complications and expense associated with the disease.

Results of a study published in the Lancet showed the weight loss drug can stop prediabetes from progressing into full-blown type 2 diabetes.

The study

The study, funded by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, recruited 2254 obese adults. Study participants were split into two groups.

One group of participant self-administered daily injections of liraglutide. The placebo group was managed with diet and exercise.

The results showed pre-diabetes was reversed in 6o percent of patients whose blood sugar levels returned to normal; compared to the diet and exercise alone group.

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Study co-author professor Carel le Roux from Imperial College of London, Department of Medicine called the results "groundbreaking", adding this study paves the way for a safe medication that works to prevent diabetes in 80 percent of people who are at risk for the disease.

Professor le Roux also explained this is the first time the diabetes treatment and weight loss injection has been shown to prevent diabetes.

About the medication

Liraglutide is also known as Victoza and is a drug that has been used to manage obesity and diabetes.

Not everyone can take the medication. One of the warnings that comes with the injectable prescription is that it should not be taken by anyone who has had a history of medullary thyroid cancer or who has had a family member with the type of thyroid cancer.

There’s also a risk of other types of thyroid tumors associated with the diabetes treatment.

One of the drawbacks of the medication is that it is costly and not widely available in the UK.

The hope is that a blood test could be developed for Glp-1 deficiency, which would allow clinicians to prescribe the medication based on those results.

It could also be used on a trial basis and discontinued if patients fail to reach blood sugar goals.

The diabetes treatment helped people in the study maintain weight loss three years. Compared to the placebo group liraglutide was associated with a 7% weight loss compared to just 2 percent of people enrolled in the study who were given diet and exercise for weight loss.