Millions of diabetics could see life-changing results from an “incredible” new drug, researchers suggested today.
Tirzepatide works by mimicking hormones that both help control blood sugar and suppress appetite, helping people shed pounds.
It has already been shown to be more effective than other similar drugs, including those distributed by the NHS.
But new data, to be presented at a medical conference, will reveal it also works up to 12 weeks faster.
Scientists involved in the analysis said the once-a-week jab produced results “beyond anything we currently have available.”
Tirzepatide mimics hormones in the body that make people feel full and satisfied after a meal.
These are often low in obese patients, who make up the majority of type 2 diabetics.
Not only does the drug help people feel full, it also helps control diabetes by helping the body avoid sugar crashes, remove excess sugar from the body, and prevent the liver from making and releasing too much sugar.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness and cause patients to amputate their limbs or go into a coma.
Scientists have praised ‘incredible’ weight loss and diabetes management results from a clinical trial of tirzepatide, sold under the brand name Mounjaro
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.
It can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination and fatigue. It can also increase your risk of serious problems with your eyes, heart, and nerves.
It is a lifelong condition that can affect your daily life. You may need to change your diet, take medications, and get regular checkups.
It is caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It is often associated with being overweight or inactive, or with a family history of type 2 diabetes.
As obesity rates have risen in recent decades, so has type 2 diabetes.
Figures now suggest that about 5 million Britons have the condition, as well as 29 million people in the US.
Drugs now exist to fight the condition, but the new analysis suggests that tirzepatide, sold under the brand name Mounjaro and made by US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, could provide better and faster improvements for patients.
The new data came from two studies, which compared a dose of 5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg with two different existing drugs.
The doses of tirzepatide were increased by 2.5 mg every four weeks until the required strength was reached and then maintained for the duration of the nearly one-year studies.
One trial involved nearly 1,500 people with type 2 diabetes.
Participants in this study were randomly assigned to one of three different doses of tirzepatide once a week or a daily injection of insulin.
The other study compared the three doses of tirzepatide with another weekly weight loss and diabetes shot called semaglutide. It concerned 1,800 participants.
Recipients of tirzepatide reached a major blood sugar control milestone of less than 7 percent hemoglobin A1c levels, an average of four weeks faster than those receiving semaglutide.
It also outperformed daily insulin shots, with participants on tirzepatide recording a hemoglobin A1c level of less than 6.5 percent 12 weeks earlier.
Similar findings were also recorded for weight loss in the semaglutide trial.
Weekly obesity shot halves diabetes risk and may lead to adequate weight loss, study suggests
An obesity drug given in weekly shots more than halves the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a historic review suggests.
Patients can inject themselves with semaglutide, which works by hijacking the brain to suppress appetite and reduce calorie intake.
Overweight and obese participants who received the regular doses saw their chance of suffering from the condition drop by up to 61 percent.
The drug, called Wegovy, has been approved for use in England after it was shown to help patients lose an average of 15 percent of their body weight, equivalent to 2nd 7 pounds.
About 4.5 million people live with type 2 diabetes in England, costing the NHS more than £10 billion a year.
Researchers conducted a new analysis of data from two previous trials of semaglutide to assess its impact on the condition.
Study leader Dr Timothy Garvey said the average weight loss of 15 percent was “enough to treat or prevent a wide range of obesity complications that impair health and quality of life.” He added that this effect is “a game changer in obesity medicine.”
People taking the 10 mg and 15 mg doses of tirzepatide lost 5 percent of their total weight after 12 weeks.
This was half the time compared to semaglutide participants.
Lead author of the analysis, Dr Adie Viljoen, a metabolic consultant and chemical pathologist with the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said tirzepatide produced ‘incredible’ results.
“The rate we’re seeing in lowering glucose and weight loss is beyond anything else we have available right now,” he said.
“It may put adults with type 2 diabetes in a better position to avoid long-term complications.
Even modest weight loss of 5 percent of original body weight is associated with clinically significant improvements in weight-related health problems for many people.
“For people with type 2 diabetes, it’s incredible to achieve these health improvements in about half the time.”
However, he added that it was important to remember that the injection was not a panacea and should be used alongside diet and exercise.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly, leading to high blood sugar levels.
It can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, increased risk of stroke, kidney problems, eye disease and nerve damage.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is genetic, type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by obesity. It is also reversible with a healthy lifestyle.
Tirzepatide mimics two hormones in the body, one called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, and glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, or GIP.
GLP-1 receptor agonists have been in use for about a decade and have transformed the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Clinical trial participants have reported experiencing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as side effects of taking tirzepatide, although these were most commonly reported when dosages were increased.
The drug is currently approved as a prescription diabetes medication in the US, although there is speculation that Eli Lilly will seek approval for its use as a weight loss drug.
It reportedly costs around £843 ($975) for a four-week course, but is not currently approved for use in the UK.
The authors of the latest analysis noted several limitations of their study, such as the clinical trials not specifically designed to compare the rate of glycemic control and weight loss between the drugs, and therefore the results should be interpreted with caution.
The analysis, funded by Eli Lilly, will be presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference in Sweden from September 19 to 23.