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Repurposed Drug Can Save People At Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

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A new study, conducted by researchers at the Imperial College London on overweight people suffering from prediabetes, reveals that a repurposed drug can save individuals who are at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. The researchers tested overweight participants with the appetite suppressing drug liraglutide.

Prediabetes is also known as "borderline diabetes" and affects nearly 1 in 10 individuals in the UK. It usually progresses to full-fledged diabetes within 10 years.

Professor Carel le Roux, along with his colleagues from the Imperial College, revealed that the drug currently being used for diabetes and obesity can be repurposed to prevent the progression of prediabetes. However, it needs to be coupled with proper exercise and diet to get favorable results.

How Was The Study Conducted?

Researchers examined nearly 2,254 adults who were obese and suffered from prediabetes. These subjects were recruited from 191 research sites from 27 countries and were divided into two groups.

The subjects in one of the groups were prescribed liraglutide along with a proper diet and regular exercise. The people in the control group were just made to follow a proper diet and exercise regularly without the use of the drug.

Post three years, the researchers found that patients treated with liraglutide were around 80 percent less probable to develop type 2 diabetes in comparison to the control group. Amongst them, 60 percent recovered from prediabetes completely and regained healthy blood sugar levels.

The people on liraglutide also managed to shed around 7 percent of their body fat on an average, whereas the control group lost just 2 percent.

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

Previous studies have revealed that overweight people tend to overeat due to the lack of the GLP-1 hormone, which regulates hunger in human beings. However, the liraglutide drug seems to mimic the action of the GLP-1 hormone, thus preventing obese individuals from overeating. This, in turn, prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Future Possibilities

Liraglutide's effectiveness in preventing type 2 diabetes may have been proven but it is an expensive drug.

Researchers are now trying to create a test that can diagnose the deficiency of GLP-1, which would ensure the availability of the drug to patients who are only likely to benefit.

Alternately, a 12-week trial may be conducted on patients with the drug. If no improvement is observed, then the patient would be taken off of it.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal The Lancet.

Photo: Alisha Vargas  | Flickr

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