Two Is Better Than One? Thwart Diabetes and Obesity with Semaglutide

Source: Medical News Today

Diabetes is among the leading causes of death in the United States. It estimated by the obesity society that over 200,000 deaths are registered annually as a result of diabetes and its sequel.

Among many other predisposing factors overweight (obesity) present the greatest risk of developing diabetes type two.  It is, therefore, a welcome relief with the development of a new pill, semaglutide that scientist indicates will kill two birds with a single stone: help patients trim their waistline while stopping the advancement of type two diabetes.

diabetes
Glucose meter kit. Source: Bayer

Correlation between Overweight and Type Two Diabetes

Obesity presents the best forecaster of developing type two diabetes. The disease epidemiology has shifted over the years. Previously it was prevalent among adults above the ages of forty, but with the current trend of childhood obesity, the disease is rearing its ugly head among children.  Approximately over 90% of type two diabetes patients are overweight!

Obesity a major risk factor of type two diabetes. Credit Getty Images
Obesity a major risk factor of type two diabetes. Source: Getty Images

Being obese adds an extra workload to your pancreas to produce and effectively use insulin which is a hormone that regulates blood glucose level.  Failure to respond to body produced insulin results in high blood sugar levels ultimately leading to what medics refer to as type two diabetes.

What Semaglutide Hopes To Achieve

For starters, semaglutide is a Glucagon-like peptide receptor agonist pill developed by Novo Nordisk. For ages, the glucagon-like peptide receptors agonists’ class of diabetes medication have been presented as injections making them less popular among patients.  Needles and injections in most cases is not a welcomed experience among the fainthearted individuals.

Preliminary finding as published in JAMA shows lots of promise that equally excites the medical practitioners. Semaglutide through scientific studies been shown to have the ability to control blood sugar levels and consequently stop the progression of type two diabetes as well as aid in weight loss. This is a first as there is no previous documented type two diabetes medication known to initiate weight loss.

A pill medication of for diabetes and overweight: credit: shutter-stock
A pill medication of for diabetes and overweight. Source: shutter-stock

According to Dr. Zonszein, the director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center, is of the opinion that semaglutide offers a great alternative to diabetes medication presented as injectable which is not only uncomfortable but comes with an element of patient inaccessibility.

Working principle of Semaglutide

The lead author of the paper, Professor Melanie Davies explains that semaglutide is a derivative of the class of glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) diabetes medication that has been developed to be taken orally.

It working principle is centered on instigating insulin production while at the same time preventing the spiking of a hormone that promotes high glucose level, glucagon. The ability of Semaglutide to suppress the brain centers that deals with hunger pangs, explains its role in controlling weight gain.

“Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Diabetes type 2 is a preventable condition. An increased body of scientific evidence suggests lifestyle changes that are geared towards weight loss will go a long way in slowing the progression of type two diabetes.  Trading sedentary lifestyle for a more physical and active lifestyle coupled with weight management present the silver bullet to prevent type two diabetes.

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Balanced diet is key in weight management. Source: Pixabay

Weight loss of between 5 to 10 % has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing dependency on type two diabetes medication as well as reducing the risks associated with diabetes complications. Some of which include blindness (diabetic retinopathy), heart conditions and in some cases lower limbs amputations (diabetic neuropathy)

What the future holds

At the time of this publication, semaglutide had successfully completed its second phase of clinical trial. Where its efficacy and safety profile were shown to be acceptable. Next in line is the third phase that further puts the drug to randomize and blind test among several patients.  This is projected to last for about three to four years.

Daily pill medication for diabetes and weight management. Credit iStock
Daily pill medication for diabetes and weight management. Source: iStock

So when is semaglutide likely to hit pharmaceutical shelves? Based on the clinical trial phases I would say it will be in the next three to four years. Keep your fingers crossed. I might be sooner than I think. Nevertheless the answer rest with the Food and Drug Administration.