Diabetes drug can cut hypo rate and boost weight loss

A new class of oral anti-diabetic drug may cut hypoglycaemic events and lead to weight loss compared with existing therapy, research suggests.

Kidney reabsorption of glucose is prevented by dapagliflozin (Photograph: SPL)
Kidney reabsorption of glucose is prevented by dapagliflozin (Photograph: SPL)

Researchers found the developmental drug dapagliflozin, a sodium/glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitor, was as effective as existing therapy at controlling HbA1c levels in people with type-2 diabetes.

It may also lead to weight loss and cut hypoglycaemic events, data suggested. In contrast, some current anti-diabetic drugs can lead to weight gain, raising risk of comorbidities.

The study was presented at last week's European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) meeting in Stockholm.

Researchers are studying SGLT-2 inhibitors as a potential new anti-diabetic therapy.

The drug prevents reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys, lowering HbA1c levels. This may cause weight loss in type-2 patients as it removes glucose from the body instead of promoting absorption into tissues.

In the study, 814 type-2 diabetes patients were randomised to receive metformin in combination with either dapagliflozin or standard treatment, glipizide. Researchers assessed change in baseline HbA1c, as well as body weight and patients reporting hypoglycaemic episodes, at 52 weeks. They found no difference in blood glucose control between the treatments.

However, patients on dapagliflozin lost an average of 3.2kg compared with those on glipizide, who gained an average of 1.4kg.

Just 3.5 per cent of patients on dapagliflozin reported hypoglycaemic events compared with 40.8 per cent on glipizide.

However, there was evidence that glycosuria caused by the drug's action may increase UTIs, the researchers said.

Most oral anti-diabetics suffer from attenuation in effectiveness over time as the body desensitises to the treatment.

Diabetes expert Professor John Wilding of the University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool was hopeful SGLT-2s may break this 'vicious cycle'.

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