A 3-year study has found that obese patients are less likely to develop diabetes, or may be able to slow its development, through daily administration on Liraglutide.
Liraglutide is used as an effective agent for weight management in certain parts of the world. The drug works by reducing the patient’s appetite and has been found to produce significant results, particularly when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Given that Liraglutide is fairly well-tolerated and can be administered just once daily at a 3.0mg subcutaneous dose to effectively promote weight loss, the potential for its wider use is vast.
Alongside its appetite-suppressing benefits, Liraglutide can be used to improve glucose metabolism. Since the drug is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, it stimulates the receptors in the body that secrete insulin and hence, allows for utilization of glucose by cells. This ultimately reduces blood glucose levels, which in turn reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Since obesity is also a risk factor in developing T2DM, the combined actions of Liraglutide are particularly favorable for pre-diabetic, obese patients.
SCALEä (Satiety and Clinical Adiposity – Liraglutide Evidence), a large global clinical trial program consisting of 4 clinical trials, evaluated the effect of Liraglutide on obesity and pre-diabetes as part of its study. Results from the 56-week trial showed significant weight loss amongst patients using 3.0mg of Liraglutide once daily, in addition to an improvement in the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels. Outcomes were then evaluated further by observing patients for another 2 years. This allowed for an assessment of the proportion of patients that went on to develop type 2 diabetes within the 160-week trial period. These results were compared to those seen in patients taking a placebo drug. The time taken to develop the disease was also observed and compared.
The findings, published in The Lancet, indicate that of the 1128 subjects enrolled in the trial, 2% of those on Liraglutide were diagnosed with T2DM by week 160 in comparison to 6% given the placebo. In addition, those using Liraglutide were found to take 2.7 times as long to develop the disease than those given a placebo. These results, in combination with the well-established link between obesity and the development of diabetes, support the use of Liraglutide in obese, pre-diabetic patients. Furthermore, the study did not note any new-found safety concerns upon observing patients for this extended period of time, providing much needed long-term data to support the safety profile of the drug.
To conclude, whilst these results show great promise, it would be interesting to establish whether the reduced risk of diabetes and delayed onset is more attributable to the weight loss promoted by Liraglutide or the drug’s direct effect on glucose regulation.
Written By: Saran Amin, MPharm