Promising New Type 2 Drug on Horizon

A new drug being developed by Eli Lilly Co. that duplicates the effects of a hormone may soon be added to the growing arsenal of pharmaceutical weapons available to treat type 2 diabetes.

The injectable drug, called LY, is designed to mimic the effects of the hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), which is produced by the liver and helps regulate the metabolism of both blood glucose and blood fat (lipids).

Over the course of a month-long trial, 46 patients with type 2 diabetes were injected either with daily doses of the drug at various levels or a placebo. Those who received the highest doses of the drug saw significant improvements in blood fat and cholesterol levels compared to those who received the placebo.

Insulin and blood sugar levels, however, were not significantly impacted, though patients on the higher doses of the drug also lost some weight, researchers said.

“Our current understanding suggests that FGF21 has the ability to favorably affect body weight, partially normalize abnormal lipid levels in patients with diabetes, and has the potential to improve glycemic control,” said senior study author Dr. Dave Moller, vice president of endocrinology and cardiovascular research, and clinical investigation for Eli Lilly.

The trial did show the potential for some side effects from the injectable hormone, including allergic reactions as well as immune responses that could cause the drug to lose effectiveness over time.

The study appeared in a September 2013 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.


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