New results from a phase II trial suggest that the type 2 diabetes drug semaglutide can lead to a weight loss of up to 13.8 per cent, over one year, in overweight or obese people.
Researchers pitted semaglutide, a glucagon-like-peptide 1 (GLP-1) developed by Novo Nordisk, against a standard therapy combo of diet, exercise and placebo.
Drugs that mimic GLP-1, or increase its levels in blood, work by stimulating insulin secretion from the pancreas and signal fullness to limit further food intake.
As a result, this hormone has been the focus of significant new drug development for type 2 diabetes and obesity in the past decade.
One recent paper found that once-weekly semaglutide helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight, experience less hypoglycemia and achieve better HbA1c levels.
This latest trial, which lasted a year and included 957 people, tested different doses of once-daily semaglutide, ranging between 0.05 to 0.4mg/day or placebo.
The study also included a separate arm treated with 3 mg per day of liraglutide, the active dose used in Novo Nordisk’s weight loss version of Victoza, Saxenda.
Across all treatment groups, semaglutide resulted in a weight loss of up to 17.8 kg after 52 weeks from a mean baseline weight of 111 kg and a body mass index (BMI) of around 39.
According to the researchers, this corresponded to an estimated 13.8 per cent weight loss, compared to the 2.3 per cent achieved with standard therapy alone.
Semaglutide reduced weight significantly more than Saxenda, which has been shown to lead to a five to ten per cent weight loss long term in previous similar studies.
Researchers reported no serious side effects throughout the course of treatment with semaglutide, although some people had to deal with mild gastrointestinal issues.
With these results in view, Novo Nordisk has announced that a phase III study with semaglutide will begin in 2018 to confirm all of the findings.

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