Type 2 diabetes pill ‘improves blood sugar control’

By Editor
17th October 2017
East Midlands, Hypoglycaemia Research

A type 2 diabetes pill taken once a day has been shown to “significantly” improve the health of people with the condition, according to new research.

In a major study, research led by Professor Melanie Davies CBE of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, found that semaglutide taken orally lowered HbA1c, a measurement of blood glucose over three months, by up to 1.9 per cent and also aided weight loss.

Although there are several type 2 diabetes treatments currently available, many of them come with greater risks of developing low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycaemia, as well as weight gain.

But up to 90 per cent of people receiving oral semaglutide achieved the target HbA1c level of less than seven per cent and 71 per cent experienced meaningful weight loss, the research published by the prestigious journal JAMA found.

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue, a relatively new group of injectable drugs, but it can also be taken orally and this study explored the effectiveness of its pill form. Semaglutide works by stimulating insulin production and suppressing the secretion of the glucose-raising hormone glucagon as well as lowering appetite.

The trial involved 632 people with type 2 diabetes randomly selected to take either semaglutide orally or as an injectable or a placebo across 26 weeks.

The researchers found that average change in HbA1c from baseline to week 26 decreased with oral semaglutide (dosage-dependent range, -0.7 per cent to -1.9 per cent) and subcutaneous semaglutide (-1.9 per cent) and placebo (-0.3 per cent).

From an average baseline HbA1c level of 7.9 per cent, between 44 per cent (2.5-mg group) and 90 per cent (40-mg standard escalation group) of patients receiving oral semaglutide achieved the target HbA1c level of less than seven per cent. Clinically relevant (five per cent or more) weight loss was achieved in up to 71 per cent of patients receiving oral semaglutide.

Professor Davies CBE, professor of diabetes medicine at the University of Leicester and chief investigator of the study, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition with potentially devastating complications which is posing a major challenge to health services across the world because of the increasing numbers of people developing it.

“We know many people struggle injecting themselves. These results, demonstrating semaglutide’s ability to have a significant impact on lowering HbA1c and support weight loss when taken orally, are hugely promising.”

Findings from previous studies carried out on semaglutide have been positive.

Manufacturers Novo Nordisk submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in December last year.

The Leicester Diabetes Centre is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation led by Professor Davies CBE and Professor Kamlesh Khunti.

Founded in 2012, the centre is responsible for world-leading clinical research, evidence-based education and cutting-edge innovation, now ranked as Europe’s largest diabetes research facility. Based at Leicester General Hospital, it is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.

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