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 and the procedure can cause complications; so such as abdominal pain, chronic nausea, vomiting and debilitating low blood sugar levels.
Patients with obesity
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; which causes weight loss and improves the body’s ability to use the sugar absorb from eating.
Researchers wanted to see if infusing patients with the GOP hormones glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and peptide, 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 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.
The work, publish in Diabetes Care and present at the American Diabetes Association 79th Scientific Sessions meeting at San Francisco, took place at Imperial College London in collaboration with University of Copenhagen and University College Dublin. The treatment was trial on patients at the National Institute for Health Research Imperial Clinical Research Facility at Hammersmith Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Weight loss was smaller
Professor Tan commented: “Although the weight loss was smaller; using the GOP infusion would be preferable as it has fewer side effects; so than bariatric surgery. This result shows that it is possible to obtain some of the benefits of a gastric bypass operation; so without undergoing the surgery itself. If further trials are successful; in future we could potentially give this type of treatment to many more patients.”
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; 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; also global populations in as fast a timeframe as possible.