Reducing weight is one thing that most of us work on a lot. Here is good news. A new study involving University College London researchers has found that about 35% of people who took the new drug have lost over 20% of their total body weight.
This seems to be a significant change for improving the health of people with obesity and could be an important part in reducing the impact of diseases. They published the findings in the New England Journal for Medicine.
The current drug, named Semaglutide, works by hijacking the body’s appetite and regulating the system in the brain leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake.
Rachel Batterham, Professor of Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology said that the study was a breakthrough in the field and no other drug was closer in terms of the weight lost.
About 75% of people who took the drug (Semaglutide 2.4mg) lost over 10% of their body weight and about one-third have lost over 20%. This has made people lose weight through drugs, which was only possible by surgery before.
Batterham added that the statistics from COVID-19 have shown that people with obesity had more chances of dying from the virus and also increasing the chances of many dangerous diseases.
Average participant lost around 15.3kgs and thus reducing the risk factors of heart disease and diabetes.
The trial’s UK Chief Investigator, Professor John Wilding (University of Liverpool) added that this was an important advancement in treating obesity.
The drug is already approved and is used clinically at a lower dose for the treatment of diabetes. Wilding added that this was exciting for him, as he was also involved in early studies of GLP1, and it was good to see this translated the work into an effective treatment for people with obesity.
The trial result helped them submit Semaglutide for regulatory approval as a treatment for obesity to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Foods and Drug Administration (FDA).
Coming to the trials, the phase #3 ’STEP’ (Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity) randomized controlled trial involving 1,961 adults who were overweight or had obesity took place at 129 sites in 16 countries across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.
The participants took 2.4mg of semaglutide weekly via subcutaneously (under the skin) injection. About 94.3% of participants completed the 68-week study, which started in autumn 2018.
Those taking part also received individual face-to-face or phone counselling sessions from registered dietitians every four weeks to help them adhere to the reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, providing guidance, behavioural strategies and motivation.
The average weight loss was about 15.3kgs .
Those who had taken Semaglutide also saw reductions in risk factors for heart disease and diabetes and reported improvements in their overall quality of life.
The drug Semaglutide is clinically approved to be used for patients with type 2 diabetes, though is typically prescribed in much lower doses of 1mg.
The drug has a compound similar to human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone, which is released into the blood from the gut after meals.
This GLP-1 induces weight loss by reducing hunger and increasing feelings of fullness, thus helping people eat less and reduce their calorie intake.
However, there were some participants in the phase III trial who reported side effects from the drug, including mild-to-moderate nausea and diarrhoea that were transient and resolved without permanent discontinuation from the study.
John P.H. Wilding, Rachel L. Batterham, Salvatore Calanna, Melanie Davies, Luc F. Van Gaal, Ildiko Lingvay, Barbara M. McGowan, Julio Rosenstock, Marie T.D. Tran, Thomas A. Wadden, Sean Wharton, Koutaro Yokote, Niels Zeuthen, Robert F. Kushner. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2032183