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Weight loss drug reduces diabetes risk by 80%, according to ICL research

Published on 27/02/17 at 09:37am

Researchers from Imperial College London have published research showing that use of weight loss drug liraglutide lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 80% versus placebo.

The team observed the effects of the drug in 2,254 patients with ‘borderline diabetes’ or ‘prediabetes’, a state of increased blood sugar levels which affects around 10% of people in the UK and leads to diabetes in up to 10% of sufferers within 10 years. The research was conducted across 191 sites in 27 countries.

The participants self-administered liraglutide injections daily in addition to diet and exercise, and after three years it was found that patients using the drug were 80% less likely to develop diabetes compared to placebo, while prediabetes was entirely reversed in 60% of participants. While some did eventually develop diabetes, it was shown that use of liraglutide caused the disease to take almost three times longer to manifest.

It is thought that the drug operates by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, an appetite-suppressing hormone found naturally in the body.

Co-author Professor Carel le Roux commented: "These groundbreaking results could pave the way for a widely used, effective, and safe drug to reverse prediabetes and prevent diabetes in 80% of at-risk people. This could improve the health of the population and save millions on healthcare spending."

"Liraglutide promotes weight loss by activating brain areas that control appetite and eating, so that people feel fuller sooner after meals and their food intake is reduced,” le Roux continued. “Although liraglutide's role in weight loss is well known, this is the first time it has been shown to essentially reverse prediabetes and prevent diabetes, albeit with the help of diet and exercise."

Matt Fellows

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