- A new drug is being developed for diabetes, which can also aid in weight loss by targeting the appetite control system in the brain
- Semaglutide is a compound that is being developed currently as a treatment for Diabetes
- The drug reduces hunger, cravings for food and also the sensation of wanting to eat
Weight loss can be achieved in people with clinical obesity with the help of a new drug developed that targets the appetite control system in the brain, reveals a new study.
On an average, participants who received weekly doses of semaglutide lost about 5kg (11lbs) over a 12 week period. Semaglutide
is a compound that is being developed currently as a treatment for Diabetes.
‘Semaglutide reduces the daily food intake by a quarter and also decreases
body fat. The drug has the potential to prevent health problems that occur
due to obesity.’
The research team at the University of Leeds reported that most of the weight loss seen in participants had come from a reduction in the body fat.
The drug reduced food cravings in people and also in those who choose to eat smaller meals and decreased their food preferences with a higher fat content.
Weight Loss with New Drug Therapy
In this study, how drug therapy can be understood and used to tackle obesity has been revealed by the scientists.
For the first time, scientists have seen the benefit of targeting of receptors or sensors, which affect multiple components of the brain's appetite control system.
"What was striking was the potency of the drug's action. We saw results in 12 weeks which may take as long as six months with other anti-obesity medication. The drug reduced hunger but also cravings for food and the sensation of wanting to eat and these had previously been thought to stem from different parts of the brain," said John Blundell, Professor of Psycho-Biology at the University of Leeds and lead researcher.
The research was published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
Semaglutide is a new drug being developed as a treatment for diabetes by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
The chemical structure of semaglutide is very similar to the naturally-occurring hormone GLP-1. This is believed to act on the appetite control center in the hypothalamus of the brain, which helps in reducing feelings of hunger.
Brain's Appetite Control Receptors
In this study, the research team also examined if the drug can also be used to tackle obesity, which can act on the brain's appetite control receptors.
"The potency of the drug is probably due to the action of the GLP-1 protein receptors on broad aspects of the appetite control system including hunger, craving and rewarding aspects of food," said Professor Blundell.
In this study, the drug was given to about 28 people whose body mass index (BMI) range was between 30 and 45 kg/m2, i.e., they were overweight with a lot of body fat.
The participants in this study were divided into two groups. One group was given semaglutide and the other a placebo substance for 12 weeks. The participants were not aware as to what they were getting.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the participants were invited to a testing center and were offered lunch and an evening meal. They were also told to consume as much as they wanted 'pleasantly full.'
The participant's consumption of food was recorded, along with their food preferences and their sensations of liking and craving food.
Body weight and body composition, i.e., the percentage of body fat were all recorded. The process was repeated with participants who received semaglutide then with the placebo.
Findings of the Study
The research team then compared the results and found that on an average the daily energy intake by the participants from the amount of food consumed was found to be about 24 percent lower with semaglutide.
The energy expenditure from metabolic processes (the Resting Metabolic Rate) was also measured, and it was found to be the same. This showed that the weight loss was not due to active metabolism. Thereupon, the fat loss produced by the drug could control appetite better.
Professor Blundell said that a drug which could reduce the daily food intake by about a quarter by reducing the body fat could help people feel that they are more in control of their lives, which will also prevent the onset of various other health problems often developed from obesity.
Semaglutide is still not in the market, as it is in the advanced stages of development.
The study was funded by Novo Nordisk but was carried out independently. The University of Leeds was asked to research because of its expertise in the science and investigation of appetite control.
- John Blundell PhD, Graham Finlayson PhD, Mads Axelsen MD, et al. Effects of once-weekly semaglutide on appetite, energy intake, control of eating, food preference and body weight in subjects with obesity. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (2017). DOI:10.1111/dom.12932