New diet wonder drug may be available in 3 years.
A four-in-one diet drug that can help a woman drop two dress sizes in six months has been developed by scientists. The jab, which could be available in three years, also lowers blood pressure, raises ‘good’ cholesterol, and can prevent and even cure diabetes.
If that’s not enough, it also appears to have a ‘feel-good’ factor.
Similar in structure to a gut hormone that helps regulate appetite, liraglutide tricks the brain into thinking we are full despite eating 20 per cent less food.
Taken for six months, it helped men and women who have struggled with their weight for years shed a stone and a half on average, making it more than twice as good as anything already on the market.
Free of the side-effects that have led some other diet ‘wonder drugs’ to be banned, it could also cut the need for gastric banding, stomach stapling and other expensive and potentially dangerous operations.
There are, however, likely to be concerns about a drug being used as a ‘quick fix’ to a problem which can in many cases be tackled with diet and exercise.
Researchers in the UK and abroad tested liraglutide on more than 550 obese men and women.
Some of those taking part were given liraglutide daily. Others were given a supply of dummy pills or of orlistat, the ‘gold standard’ obesity treatment prescribed by GPs around the country.
Those who took liraglutide lost an average of a stone and a half over six months – more than twice as much as those on orlistat, the International Congress on Obesity heard.
When they continued to take the drug for another 18 months, the weight stayed off. However, those on orlistat started to pile the pounds back on.
The benefits of liraglutide, which like insulin comes in an injectable pen, did not end there.
Blood pressure dropped to such an extent that patients could throw away the drugs they were taking to keep it under control.
There was also an improvement in blood fats, including cholesterol.
The body’s ability to deal with sugar changed so much that diabetes was staved off in those at risk.
Liraglutide, which is also known as Victoza, can also improve the processing of sugar in those who already have the condition – removing the need for some to inject themselves with insulin.
Professor Mike Lean, of Glasgow University, who treated some of the Britons in the trial, said: ‘The weight loss was very striking.
‘One of the things we looked at was pre-diabetes, where you have one foot on the slippery slope towards diabetes and heart disease, and it more or less abolished it.
‘That doesn’t mean that it has gone forever but at least you have turned the clock back.’
He added: ‘The drug is very effective and most obese people would like to lose one and a half stone or more. The difficulty is what then? Can people adapt their eating habits and start to become thin people?
‘We don’t know. But we do know with absolute certainty that when you stop a drug and the effects have gone, people’s weight starts going up again.’
Liraglutide is expected to cost around £1,000 a year, or almost £3 a day, making it slightly more expensive than existing drugs.
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP and medical director of charity Weight Concern, gave the drug a cautious welcome. He said: ‘We are badly in need of safe and effective weight-loss medicines but many have promised great results but have not delivered.
‘Obesity is too complex to be solved with a drug.
‘Drugs should only ever be used as a support to lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise.’
Via Daily Mail