New Drug Shows Exenatide-Like Promise in Type 2 Treatment

An experimental exenatide (Byetta)-like drug called liraglutide has shown the ability to enhance insulin and glucagon production and suppress appetite in type 2 patients, according to a report in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Liraglutide is a manmade analog of the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), which stimulates the growth of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and insulin secretion.

Because of liraglutide’s success in the phase 3 trial, its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, will now seek approval from  the Food and Drug Administration to market liraglutide in the United States.

In the one-year Novo Nordisk-funded study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 746 type 2 patients received once daily injections of either 1.2 mg or 1.8 mg of liraglutide or a once daily oral tablet of glimepiride, a sulfonylurea that promotes insulin production.
Patients receiving liraglutide also took dummy pills, while patients taking glimepiride also received dummy injections.

As they began treatment, patients’ A1c’s ranged from 7% to 11%. By the end of the study:

  • the A1c’s of patients receiving 1.8 mg of liraglutide daily dropped by 1.14 percent
  • the A1c’s of patients receiving 1.2 mg of liraglutide daily dropped by 0.84 percent
  • the A1c’s of patients taking glimepiride daily dropped by 0.51 percent

Six patients had to drop out of the study due to severe nausea. Common side effect of exenatide-like drugs are. nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, symptoms that ease up or disappear within 30 days in most patients.

The study also tracked weight: in the first 16 weeks, the subjects taking liraglutide lost weight, while most of those taking glimepiride gained weight. 

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