Results of a new study, which involved over 3,700 overweight and obese nondiabetic adults, reveals that combining diabetes drug liraglutide with diet and exercise was linked with significant reduction in weight as well as improvement in a number of cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
"If these improvements continue over time, they may result in a lower risk of heart disease," said the study's principal investigator, Carel Le Roux, MD, PhD, Diabetes Complications Research Centre, University College Dublin.
The drug is undergoing testing at a 3 milligram (mg) dose for long-term weight management as part of the SCALE™ (Satiety and Clinical Adiposity—Liraglutide Evidence in Nondiabetic and Diabetic Subjects) Obesity and Prediabetes trial. Liraglutide currently is marketed as Victoza® in 1.2 mg and 1.8 mg injectable doses for adults with Type 2 diabetes to help control blood glucose (sugar) when used along with diet and exercise. The drug does not have approval for weight loss, according to its manufacturer, Denmark-headquartered Novo Nordisk, which sponsored the study.
On average, individuals treated with liraglutide 3 mg lost 5.4 percent more of their body weight, achieving a total of 8 percent, and nearly 1.7 more inches (4.2 centimeters) around their waist than did those who received placebo, the investigators reported.
Compared with the placebo group, liraglutide-treated subjects also experienced better improvements in blood pressure and levels of all fasting lipids (blood fats), including LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol, according to Le Roux. These improvements, he said, resulted in a greater reduction in net use of blood pressure drugs and lipid-lowering medications in the liraglutide 3 mg group than in the placebo group.
In general, the researchers found liraglutide 3 mg to have a safety profile that was similar to that found in previous clinical trials of the drug in individuals with Type 2 diabetes treated with lower doses.
"Current obesity treatment options are limited," Le Roux said. "There is a need for new treatment options for people who struggle with obesity and obesity-related diseases that can help in reducing their weight."