- Pioneering new once-a-week jab could put type 2 diabetes patients in ‘remission’
- Tirzepatide is so effective that it may provide a viable alternative to weight loss surgery.
- Drug trials announced at the annual European Association for the Study of Diabetes
The once-a-week jab could put patients with type 2 diabetes ‘in remission’ – lowering blood sugar to normal levels, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and helping patients lose another half or more of their weight.
An important trial in the drug, announced last week at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual conference, found it significantly outperforms existing treatment regimes, offering hope to people with the disease.
The new drug, tirzepatide, is so effective that it could offer patients a viable alternative to weight loss surgery, which is currently the most effective method of treating patients who need to lose large amounts of weight and have their type 2. Diabetes needs to be cured.
The cost of surgery can range from £4,000 to £15,000 privately, depending on the type of procedure, and fewer than 7,000 such operations are performed on the NHS each year.
Experts say Tirzepatide is not yet licensed, but it would hope to offer the NHS savings on the cost of surgery.
There are currently over 4.5 million Britons living with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and 13.6 million are said to be at risk of developing it.
Tirzepatide once a week can put type 2 diabetes patients ‘in remission’ – lowering blood sugar to normal levels, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and helping patients lose a half or more stone
The findings add to a growing body of evidence about the remarkable effectiveness of the treatment, which means health majors may now consider giving it the green light.
‘It’s about choice,’ said Melanie Davis, professor of diabetes medicine, University of Leicester, lead researcher for the global trial.
‘Surgery is only available to a small minority of patients. Until a few years ago, drugs giving similar results would not have been heard, but it is likely to happen in the near future.
One of the first type 2 diabetic patients to benefit from tirazepatide, an astonishing fourth one, was lost after four months of weekly self-administered injections.
David Batson, a 64-year-old retired telecoms boss from Leicestershire, who took part in the trial between December 2019 and March 2020, also noticed that his blood sugar fell into the non-diabetic range and his blood pressure returned to normal.
He said, ‘And I achieved all this by doing nothing more than sitting in my living room and reading a few books.’
Tirazeptide is a new type of drug that combines an existing form of a drug called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, and a new, similar drug, known as a glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, or GIP. Is.
GLP-1 receptor agonists have been in use for almost a decade and have transformed the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
As with other diabetes medications such as metformin, they work by mimicking naturally occurring hormones involved in digestion and help patients who find they cannot lose weight through diet and exercise alone. .
The drugs send signals to the brain, help curb hunger, stimulate the body to use glucose in the blood, and reduce the amount of sugar that is digested and absorbed from food.
Several GLP-1 receptor agonists are now available, including exenatide, liraglutide and semaglutide, which is available in both injectable and tablet form.
However, the inclusion of a second active ingredient, GIP, some experts say makes tirazeptide more effective.
GIP works similarly to a GLP-1 receptor agonist, mimicking a naturally occurring digestive hormone, helping to stimulate insulin release and absorption of sugar from the blood.
By itself, it was ineffective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes – for reasons not fully understood. But it had a transformative effect in combination with other drugs.
On the trial, 1,879 patients – mostly middle-aged – were given self-injector pens.
There are currently over 4.5 million Britons living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and 13.6 million are said to be at risk of developing it.
They were instructed to take a single dose of either tyrazepetide or semaglutide once a week for ten months.
The new drug worked better than semaglutide in every aspect, leading to weight loss and better blood sugar control even at the lowest dose.
Professor Naveed Sattar, an expert in diabetes and metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, welcomed the new findings.
“In some cases, these drugs mimic the process of remission,” he said. ‘The key to developing diabetes is usually a buildup of excess fat in the liver and other organs. Losing a significant amount of weight gets rid of it, allowing the body to function normally again.’
Mr. Bateson remains confident of tirazeptide’s effectiveness after his brief stint on it. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure seven years ago after a routine mid-life health check-up.
David, who lives with his wife Elizabeth, a chef, began testing in December 2019 when he weighed 18. By March, after taking tirzepatide for four months, he weighed 14th.
He said, ‘I looked like a different person. ‘My clothes don’t fit anymore. I was feeling very tired because the weight was coming off fast.
But other than that, and a little nausea in the first few days of treatment, there were no side effects. I still ate, but I was feeling less hungry – I wasn’t as hungry as before.’
David has set a stone since stopping Tirazeptide. ‘I’m inclined to go back to this,’ he said. ‘I know how serious diabetes is – people can lose their sight and have limbs amputated. I want to avoid it.’
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