We’ve all been looking for a magic drug or pill that could help treat diabetes. It looks like we’re one step closer to that goal as a recent study has shown that a weight loss drug has the potential to prevent and even treat diabetes. The Clinical trial was published in the journal “The Lancet“.
Obesity and diabetes are becoming more and more common around the world. In just the U.S, over 30 million people suffer from diabetes. Both conditions have a positive link with each other. As a person gains more weight, they are more prone to suffer from diabetes as well. Although there are a lot of drugs available right now that try to help diabetes patients.
All the drugs currently available aim to reduce the effects of diabetes as much as possible by regulating sugar levels. This involves the use of drugs that reduce sugar levels or insulin injections that help in the regulation of excess sugar. According to the results of the new study, a new drug can now be used to treat diabetes.
The new weight loss drug lorcaserin was able to reduce the risk of complications due to diabetes, induce diabetes remission. Moreover, the drug also showed signs of reducing the risk of even developing the condition in the clinical trial that was led by researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, MA.
The trial included 12,000 people who were classified as either obese or overweight. The people selected were also at risk for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, half of the participants already had diabetes whereas a third were in the “prediabetes” stage. Therefore, the sample was large and diverse enough to be generalized to other diabetes cases.
The trial was a classical control group experiment. Half of the participants were assigned to the “treatment” group. The other half was assigned to the “control” group. If you don’t know how these types of experiments work, here’s a quick rundown. The experiment/trial is usually to see the effectiveness of something, typically a medicine. In this case, the effects of lorcaserin were being tested.
The people assigned to the treatment group are actually given the drug whereas the people in the control group get a placebo. A placebo is anything but the drug. The participants don’t know whether they’ve received the actual drug or the placebo. The placebo could just be water or something and the participant might’ve been asked to drink it or it was perhaps injected into them. Therefore, both groups think that they’ve gotten the treatment. The results are then measured and then a comparison is made to see whether the drug was actually helpful or not or is it more related to psychological reasons (in case the placebo does well).
This trial was similar to the experiment style described above. The participants were then monitored for an average period of 3 years.
The trial revealed some interesting things. The treatment group was much better off than the control, which meant that the drug being used was actually beneficial. It was found that lorcaserin helped reduce the risk of diabetes by 19% for people with prediabetes.
The number of people who had prediabetes and were in the treatment group that went on to develop diabetes was much lower than the number in the control group. 9.2% of prediabetes patients who took lorcaserin saw restoration in their sugar levels compared to just 7.6% in the control group.
Apart from prediabetes patients, even diabetes patients enjoyed the benefits of lorcaserin. The drug not only helped significant remission of hyperglycemia, but it also lowered the risk of complications from diabetes. The risk of developing complications such as microalbuminuria, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic neuropathy, was reduced by 21 percent.
However, lorcaserin didn’t come without its drawbacks. Researchers found that patients who were already taking some sort of treatment for their diabetes such as insulin didn’t benefit. Instead, there were increased cases of severe hypoglycemia among these people.
“We recently presented findings showing that use of lorcaserin resulted in modest but sustained weight loss among obese and overweight patients without increasing risk of heart attack and stroke,” explains Dr. Bohula.
Another interesting result of the trial was that the drug also helped in reducing weight. The people in the treatment group lost an average of 4.2 kg whereas the placebo group lost only an average of 1.4 kilograms. That’s 3 times for the treatment group which makes lorcaserin effective not only for diabetes patients but for weight loss as well.
“Now we [also] report that, when added to lifestyle interventions, lorcaserin significantly reduced incidence of diabetes, increased rates of diabetes remission, and reduced the risk of diabetic microvascular complications.”-Dr. Erin Bohula
There’s a lot to take away from this trial. As Dr. Scirica points out, obesity is a major factor when it comes to dealing with diabetes and cardiovascular health. If one can lose a reasonable amount of weight, it can lead to improved cardiometabolic health which would also help lorcaserin in weight management. The results of the trials themselves also reinforce the first point because, in the end, it is a weight loss drug with added benefits.
“It provides another tool in the armamentarium, beyond diet and exercise, for patients hoping to achieve and maintain weight loss.”
“And, happily, as we saw, even relatively modest weight loss can improve the diabetes control in those with diabetes and reduce the development of diabetes in those at risk,”
There are already many treatment methods for diabetes. The new lorcaserin drug adds to the already large list. Although there are a few drawbacks of the drug such as its incompatibility with other treatment options, it’s still much more effective than many other options out there.
Not only is lorcaserin a powerful weight loss tool, but it also helps in treating diabetes and prediabetes. Why is it better than the rest? While the others help in regulating blood sugars, this drug helps in reducing the risk of even developing the disease and many other complications that arise from it.