A compound that mimics a naturally occurring hormone that regulates appetite may help obese people shed those extra kilos, according to a recent study.
The compound, semaglutide, has a chemical structure that is very similar to the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which regulates both insulin secretion and appetite. In December, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the semaglutide injection Ozempic as a once-weekly adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
“This randomised study of weight loss induced with semaglutide in people with obesity but without diabetes has shown the highest weight reductions yet seen for any pharmaceutical intervention,” said lead author Patrick M O’Neil of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC.
The new study included 957 participants, 35% of whom were male. All participants had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, but did not have diabetes. They were randomly assigned to seven different groups. Five groups received different doses of semaglutide (between 0.05 mg and 0.4 mg) via injection once daily; a sixth group received a placebo, and a seventh group received 3 mg of the diabetes drug liraglutide. All participants received monthly diet and exercise counselling.
After one year, all participants receiving semaglutide had lost significantly more weight than those receiving placebo. The higher the dose participants received, the greater their average weight loss. Participants who received 0.05 mg of semaglutide daily lost an average of 6.0% of their body weight; the 0.1 mg group lost an average of 8.6%; the 0.3 mg group lost an average of 11.2%; and those receiving a daily dose of 0.4 mg lost an average of 13.8%. Those receiving liraglutide lost an average of 7.8% of their body weight, while those in the placebo group lost only 2.3% on average.
Sixty five percent of participants who received 0.4 mg of semaglutide per day lost at least 10% of their body weight, compared with 10% of those in the placebo group and 34% of the liraglutide group. The most common adverse events in those taking semaglutide were mild/moderate nausea, as seen previously with GLP-1 receptor agonists.
O’Neil noted that further studies of semaglutide for obesity are underway. The research was presented at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.