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Researchers have created a new drug, semaglutide, that stops diabetes from getting worse and helps diabetic patients lose weight. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue that can be taken as a pill or injected. It helps to control blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin production and suppressing the release of glucagon which raises blood glucose.

The weight-loss effect of semaglutide is important because a vital aspect of the control of the progression of diabetes is getting patients to shed weight. The new drug could be available to patients within three years, according to experts

Results from the phase II trial of semaglutide carried out by a team of experts at Leicester Diabetes Center in the U.K. and published in the science research journal JAMA, shows that the drug stopped the progression of diabetes in up to 90 percent of patients. The results also showed that it helped about 71 percent of patients to lose weight from the waistline.

The phase II trial of the drug involved 632 patients. When taken with metformin, semaglutide prevented diabetes from getting worse in most patients. The drug was so effective at reducing blood sugar levels that patients stopped needing insulin therapy to control blood glucose.

Researchers concluded that the weight-loss observed in 71 percent of patients was due directly to the action of the drug. The weight-loss effect of semaglutide contrasted with other treatments which trigger weight gain that can further worsen type 2 diabetes.

According to experts, semaglutides’ ability to induce weight-loss makes it a far more effective way to control type 2 diabetes.

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Diabetes is a major killer worldwide. It leads to heart diseases and blindness. Complications arising from the progression of the disease often lead to limb amputation.

“Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition with potentially devastating complications which is posing a major challenge to health services across the world.”

Researchers have linked diabetes with obesity. It is estimated that increasing rates of obesity have fueled the increase in diabetes diagnoses worldwide.

It is estimated that there are nearly 400 million people worldwide living with the condition.

Melanie Davies, lead author of the study, said that trials show that semaglutide could drastically change the way diabetes is treated because of its “ability to lower HbA1c and support weight loss.” According to Davies, semaglutide will provide relief for many diabetic patients who have to inject themselves regularly with insulin.

The drug will make treatment of diabetes easier and more accessible to millions of sufferers, according to Davies.

“For some patients injectable therapies are a problem, so having something available orally makes it more accessible to some patients.”

“These results demonstrating semaglutide’s ability to have a significant impact on lowering HbA1c and support weight loss when taken orally are hugely promising,” Davies said

The breakthrough comes soon after the World Health Organized (WHO) warned that the world is facing an exploding diabetes epidemic. The number of people living with the condition has doubled since 1996.

Diabetes is characterized by excessively high blood glucose levels due to defects in the body’s control mechanisms. The condition has a dramatic impact on patients’ life expectancy. Experts estimate that it reduces life expectancy by up to a decade.

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[Featured Image by Fahkamram/Shutterstock]

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