For Our Next Generation

Progress on the Next Generation of Obesity Treatment

Gratefully, we can report progress on the next generation of obesity treatment. For starters, John Blundell and colleagues have just published a controlled clinical trial of semaglutide in obesity. The study is a tightly controlled experiment to explain how the drug works.

And beyond semaglutide, more options for treating obesity are moving into development. The prospects for better options in obesity care are getting brighter.

Study Reveals How Semaglutide Might Work in Obesity

Liraglutide is perhaps the most successful of the current generation of new obesity drugs.  In the form used for obesity, it’s brand name is Saxenda. Liraglutide belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists. Semaglutide is a next-generation GLP-1 agonist from the maker of Saxenda, Novo Nordisk. The drug is already awaiting FDA approval for diabetes. It’s in phase 2 development for obesity. That’s the phase when clinical scientists confirm that the drug works for a specific purpose.

Blundell et al looked at the effect of semaglutide on body weight and the mechanism for that effect. It was a 12-week, placebo-controlled study of just 30 patients. They found a 5 kg weight loss in patients who weighed an average of 101 kg. But more interesting was the finding of how it worked.

The researchers found that people simply ate less when taking the drug and given unrestricted lunch and dinner meals. People taking semaglutide consumed 24% fewer calories per day. They had less hunger and craving for food, better control of eating, and less preference for high-fat foods. The drug had no effect on resting metabolic rate.

Novo Nordisk has more work to do before semaglutide will be ready to use for obesity. This study used the once-weekly, 1 mg dose used in diabetes. More studies are ongoing to determine the best dose to use for obesity.

More to Come

Semaglutide is certainly an advanced and tantalizing new possibility. But more important is a wide range of more treatments to come. Recent reviews point out that the targets for new drugs in obesity are growing once again. Research is producing new insights into brown fat, the metabolic effects of bariatric surgery, and signaling between the gut and brain. Those insights point to new targets for drug development.

Novo Nordisk alone has five new compounds in phase 1 clinical development for obesity. Others, such as Novartis are coming into the field. We certainly need the innovation.

Click here for the study by Blundell et al. You can find more on new obesity drugs here, here, here, and here.

For Our Next Generation, photograph © Bailey Cheng / flickr

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March 21, 2017