UK researchers have introduced a 'game changing' diabetes drug for people with obesity, that results in 'significant' weight loss. The drug called tirzepatide mimics hormones in the body that decreases an individual's appetite after the meal, the researcher explained.
As per the study, the drug was administered to approximately 2,500 overweight or obese participants in a 72-week trial. Divided into four equal groups, the participants, none of whom had diabetes, were from the US, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Taiwan.
All of them received different doses of either a placebo injection or tirzapatide in the course of those 6 years. When the study concluded, the researchers found that majority of the participants in the highest dose group of 15 mg appeared to have lost 20 per cent of their body weight.
The lead author of the research Dr Ania Jastreboff of the Yale University believes that obesity being one of the leading causes of death in Europe, needs to be treated like a serious health condition. "We should treat obesity as we treat any chronic disease," she told the Guardian.
The researchers explained that if the drug is administered with other diabetes medicine, like metformin, it appears to mimic the 'naturally occurring' hormones in the process of digestion and majorly helps patients who, even after following certain diets and constant exercise, cannot lose weight.
While sending signals to the brain, the drug decreases the appetite and energizes the body as it utilizes the glucose in the blood. Further it helps in the absorption of food and lowers the amount of sugar digested.
Made by American pharmaceutical company Lilly, the drug however, is also known to cause certain side effects like vomiting and diarrhoea. Many health experts also believe that if people stop taking the drug they could regain weight again, as per the Daily Mail.
"These drugs are game changing for the obesity field but they will only work for as long as the drug is being taken," said Dr Simon Cork, a senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University.
According to Professor Tom Sanders, an expert in nutrition and dietetics at King's College London, there might be a negative reaction on the pancreas too. "This class of drugs only works providing the participants stick to the reduced calorie diet prescribed with the drug so it is not a magic bullet," he said.
While many medical professionals have welcomed this research and calling the findings "good news," there are also a few who advised against 'ditching lifestyles' to lose weight, like Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, who was not a part of the study.
"The emergence of these new drugs does not mean people should ditch lifestyles as it is far better to prevent obesity in the first place than treat it at a late stage when a lot of damage has already been done," he said.
Just before tirzepatide, another drug by the name of semaglutide was approved by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in February, for certain groups of people tackling the problem of obesity.
The research findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, under the title Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity on June 4.