New diabetes drug cuts weight gain and hypos

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

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.

In addition, it may also lead to weight loss and reduced hypoglycaemic events, data suggested. In contrast, some current anti-diabetic drugs can lead to weight gain, increasing the risk of co-morbidities.

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

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

The drug prevents reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys, thereby lowering HbA1c levels. In theory, 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 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 number of patients reporting hypoglycaemic episodes, at 52 weeks.

They found there was no difference in blood glucose control between the treatments.

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

Furthermore, just 3.5% of patients on dapagliflozin reported hypoglycaemic events compared to 40.8% 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 in the years after it is first prescribed as the body desensitises to the treatment.

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

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