A new diabetes drug being developed by the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has shown promise in phase 2 clinical trials.
The drug, currently called TAK-875, matched the blood sugar lowering performance of a similar drug, glimepiride, with a significantly lower incidence of hypoglycemia. A similar percentage of patients taking the new drug achieved HbA1c levels of below 7% as those taking glimepiride.
When glucose and the level of fatty acids rises in the blood, receptors in the body respond by signalling the pancreas to release insulin. Takeda’s new type 2 diabetes drug works by activating these receptors (known as FFAR1 receptors) and therefore is able to increase insulin secretion.
Glimepiride is in a drug class, sulfonylureas, which also increase the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas. These drugs are commonly prescribed as a second line of treatment if metformin has not lowered HbA1c sufficiently. There are, however, downsides to classes of diabetes drugs which increase insulin secretion beyond hypoglycemia. Sulfonylureas can lead to weight gain and studies have shown some increased incidences of cancer linked with this type of drug.
Takeda are optimistic about the new drug and are keen to conduct larger trials to assess the safety and effectiveness of TAK-875.

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