Hormone Treatment; An injection has helped reduce body weight and glucose levels in patients with diabetes and obesity in four weeks. The findings came from a small study in which patients lost on average 4.4kg and the treatment led to substantial improvements to their blood glucose, with some patients’ reducing to near-normal levels. Obesity is a common problem in the UK and it is estimated that one in four adults are obese.
One of the most common types of weight loss surgery is a procedure known as gastric bypass surgery; which can be very effective in keeping excess weight off and improving blood sugar levels in diabetics. However, some patients decide against surgery; also the procedure can cause complications such as abdominal pain, chronic nausea, vomiting and debilitating low blood sugar levels.
The hormone treatment
Previous research by Imperial College London suggest that one of the reasons why gastric bypass surgery works; so well is because three specific hormones originating from the bowels are release in higher levels. This hormone combination, called “GOP’ for short, reduces appetite, causes weight loss and improves the body’s ability to use the sugar absorb from eating. Researchers want to see if infusing patients with the GOP hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and peptide; so to mimic the high levels seen after surgery, could aid weight loss and reduce high glucose levels.
Fifteen patients were given the GOP treatment for four weeks; so using a pump that slowly injects the GOP mixture under the skin for 12 hours a day, beginning one hour before breakfast and disconnecting after their last meal of the day. Patients also receive dietetic advice on healthy eating and weight loss from a dietician.
“Obesity and type 2 diabetes can lead to very serious and potentially life threatening conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. There is a real need to find new medicines so they can improve and save the lives of many patients. Although this is a small study our new combination hormone treatment is promising and has shown significant improvements in patients’ health in only four weeks. Compare to other methods the treatment is non-invasive; also reduce glucose levels to near-normal levels in our patients.”
Blood glucose levels
In the trial, patients on the GOP treatment lost an average of 4.4kg; compare with 2.5kg for participants receiving a saline placebo. The treatment also had no side effects. However, patients who receive bariatric surgery or who follow a very low calorie diet lost significantly more weight than GOP patients. The changes in weight were 10.3kg for bariatric patient and 8.3kg for patients who follow a very low calorie diet.
The team also found that GOP was capable of lowering blood glucose levels to near-normal levels, with little variation in the blood glucose. Patients who receive bariatric surgery also had an overall improvement in blood glucose; but the levels were much more variable, leaving them vulnerable to low blood glucose levels. The team aim to carry out a larger clinical trial to assess the impact of GOP on more patients over a longer period of time.
The research was fund by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre. This research is an example of the work carry out by Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre; so a joint initiative between Imperial College London and three NHS hospital trusts. It aims to transform healthcare by turning scientific discoveries into medical advances to benefit local, national and global populations in as fast a timeframe as possible.