Could Victoza become a viable treatment for type 1 diabetes?

This week there was news from a small study that showed that Novo Nordisk’s Victoza could serve as a viable treatment for type 1 diabetes, as a supplement to insulin.

People with type 1 diabetes can often find themselves dealing with large swings in blood sugar on a near-to daily basis which can be particularly difficult to control. The study on Victoza indicated that the drug helps to reduce the swings in blood sugar and improved overall blood glucose control.

Victoza (also known as Liraglitude) is a once daily injectable medication for people with type 2 diabetes.

The drug’s action is to:

  • Increase insulin secretion
  • Delay stomach emptying
  • Suppress meal time glucagon secretion

It is the third action, suppressing glucagon, that raises interest as potential treatment for type 1 diabetes –in addition to insulin.

Victoza and type 1 diabetes study findings
The study, which was a small one in terms of participant numbers (looking at 14 people with relatively well controlled diabetes), was of note for the following reasons:

  • Participants found that the amount of insulin they needed to take was reduced by about 30% (basal and bolus)
  • Average blood sugar decreased by about 15%
  • The group’s collective HbA1c dropped from 6.5% down to 6.1%

One worry which people with type 1 diabetes may have is that with glucagon suppressed, whether this could lead to dangerous hypos that the body cannot respond to. With Victoza’s action reportedly taking place at meal times, I would think it only a problem for people who have lost hypo awareness, however, this is just a supposition of mine and more research may be needed to test safety from severe hypoglycemia.

The study suggested that swings in blood sugar were avoided which helped to reduce hypoglycemia as well as hyperglycemia.

Other type 2 drugs which may have benefits
Victoza is not the only type 2 diabetes medication to have been suggested as a possible aid for people with type 1 diabetes – Januvia was studied as a potential option in 2010.

Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia could help people with type 1 diabetes

The other available non-insulin injectable medication available in the UK is Byetta (Exenatide), which is also prescribed specifically for people with type 2 diabetes.

Benefits and disadvantages of Victoza and Byetta
An potential benefit of Victoza and Byetta are that they can help to suppress appetite and aid weight loss. This may be a benefit for some people with type 1 diabetes but could also be a disadvantage for those who are already slim. Participants taking Victoza in the study lost an average of 10lbs in body weight over 6 months.

Victoza and Byetta both have potential side effects which include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.

Not recommended for use in type 1 diabetes
It should be noted that Victoza, Byetta and Januvia have not been recommended for use for people with type 1 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes you should not take or expect to be prescribed the drug. It is possible that these medications may be approved in future for use by type 1 diabetics but not until research can prove its safety.

Your views on Victoza

  • If you have type 1 diabetes, would you be tempted to try taking an injectable medication in addition to your insulin?
  • If you have type 2 diabetes and take Victoza, how do you find it?

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