New drug offers hope for obesity and diabetes treatment

Credit: Unsplash+

Obesity and diabetes are global health crises, leading to severe complications like heart disease and strokes.

Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, is one approach for addressing these issues, leading to long-term weight loss and diabetes remission.

However, this method is not suitable for everyone due to the significant risks involved.

Innovative Solution

Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London have developed injectable compounds that emulate the benefits of gastric bypass surgery without the need for an invasive procedure.

These treatments significantly reduced weight and blood glucose levels in lab animals without causing common side effects, like nausea and vomiting, often associated with current weight loss and diabetes medications.

How it Works

These compounds mimic the long-term effects of gastric bypass surgery, which involve altering gut secretion levels of certain hormones that signal fullness, curb appetite, and regulate blood sugar.

The researchers designed a peptide named GEP44 that activates two receptors for peptide YY (PYY), along with the receptor for glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

In obese rats, this compound led to an 80% reduction in food intake and an average weight loss of 12% in just 16 days.

Comparing with Existing Medications

This effect was three times greater than the weight loss experienced by rats treated with liraglutide, an FDA-approved injectable drug for treating obesity that only activates the GLP-1 receptor.

Crucially, tests with GEP44 in rats and shrews showed no signs of nausea or vomiting. This is possibly due to the activation of multiple receptors that may cancel out the signaling pathway causing these symptoms.

Long-Term Impact

The weight loss due to GEP44 is not just from decreased eating, but also from higher energy expenditure, which can involve increased movement, heart rate, or body temperature.

The researchers are now developing a peptide with a longer half-life that could require only once or twice-weekly injections, rather than multiple daily doses.

Rats treated with this next-generation compound maintained their reduced weight even after treatment ended, which is not typically seen with currently approved drugs.

Other Benefits

The compounds also lower blood sugar by pulling glucose into muscle tissue, where it can be used as fuel, and by converting some pancreatic cells into insulin-producing cells to replace those damaged by diabetes.

An interesting side effect of GEP44 is that it reduces cravings for opioids such as fentanyl in rats, which could potentially be used to aid in addiction treatment.

Future Steps

The research team has filed patents on their compounds and plans to test their peptides in primates.

They will also investigate how these treatments alter gene expression and rewire the brain, and the implications for these compounds and other medications.

This research holds great potential as a safe, effective, and accessible alternative to bariatric surgery for individuals struggling with obesity and diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about a cure for type 2 diabetes, and why insulin is more expensive for people with diabetes.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing eggs in a plant-based diet may benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

This study was conducted by Robert Doyle et al and presented at ACS Spring 2023.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.