A trial of the injectable type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide has shown the medication to be effective at treating children with the condition.
A study has been testing how effective liraglutide is in children because at the moment there are only two types of medication, metformin and insulin, approved for treating under 18s in the US. In comparison, there are more than 30 different types of medication available for adults.
Liraglutide, marketed as Victoza, has been approved for use in adults with type 2 diabetes in the US since January 2010.
Study co-author Dr Jane Lynch, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas (UT) Health San Antonio, said: “We’ve not been able to get drugs approved for children beyond metformin and insulin.”
The clinical trial involved more than 130 children aged between 10 and 17 with type 2 diabetes. Half of them were given liraglutide shots and metformin pills and the remaining participants were given metformin plus a placebo.
Dr Lynch said: “This adult diabetes medication was very effective in our trial of youth with type 2 diabetes and was well tolerated. We urgently need other options for medical treatment of type 2 diabetes in our youth under age 18.
“If approved, this drug would be a fantastic new option to complement oral metformin therapy as an alternative to insulin for our youth and adolescents with type 2 diabetes.”
Overall, 64% of children in the liraglutide group reached HbA1c levels of less than 53 mmol/mol (7%) at week 26, compared with 37% in the those in the placebo group.
In adults, liraglutide has been shown to be effective at helping people reduce body weight. Within this trial, no significant different were seen in body weight changes for the children overall between the start and end of the study.
Since 2005, more than 1,000 children at the Texas Diabetes Institute have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and the youngest was just five, which is why the researchers felt that more treatment options needed to be sought.
The results of the trial have now been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the organisations to consider whether the treatment can be made available for children aged 10 or older with type 2 diabetes.
The study outcomes were unveiled at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2019 meeting in Baltimore and were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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