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Longevity Briefs: New Weight Loss ‘Wonder Drug’ Shows Stunning Results In Clinical Trials

Posted on 15 February 2021

Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.

Obesity is a major risk factor for numerous non-communicable diseases, including: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancer, and many more. Obesity is responsible for 4.7 million premature deaths each year.

Even though there are numerous ways to lose weight, there is still a need for effective pharmacotherapy to treat obesity. An effective anti-obesity medication that does not encourage weight-gain in the long-term would be a game changer and could have a huge public health impact. With the global obesity epidemic worse now than ever before, it is time for a new approach to tackling this epidemic.

What did the researchers do: Researchers gathered almost 2000 adults with a BMI of over 30, but who did not suffer from diabetes, to take part in trialling a new weight loss drug semaglutide.

The participants were administered a daily dose of 2.4mg of the drug, or placebo, to be taken over the course of 68 weeks.

Semaglutide works by overriding the body’s appetite levels and mimicking a hormone, called Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is released just after eating a filling meal.

Actions of GLP-1 in target tissues. Adapted with permission from ref. 9. GI, gastrointestinal. Source:

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The results showed that the average change for those taking semaglutide was a 15.3kg (14.6%) reduction in body weight, compared to 2.6kg (2.4%) loss in the placebo group.

Those that received the drug also reported an improvement in regard to cardiovascular health and physical functioning.

Despite there being some adverse side effects including nausea and diarrhoea, the study was an overwhelming success.

As Prof. Sir Stephen O’Rahilly stated

The amount of weight loss achieved is greater than that seen with any licensed anti-obesity drug. This is the start of a new era for obesity drug development with the future direction being to achieve levels of weight loss comparable to semaglutide, while having fewer side-effects.

Source: BBC

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