The year 2023 marked a turning point in the treatment of diabetes and obesity with the success of incretin mimetics, particularly Semaglutide. Incretin mimetics are based on peptide hormones such as GLP-1 and GIP, released in the gastrointestinal tract after food intake and contribute to glucose homeostasis. In type 2 diabetes, the incretin release is insufficient, which led to the development of mimetics like Exenatide, approved in 2007, and later Semaglutide.
Semaglutide: A Game-Changer for Diabetes and Obesity Treatment
Semaglutide (Ozempic) is injected once a week and results in improved insulin release, appetite reduction, delayed gastric emptying, and significant weight reduction - in some patients up to 15%. These properties have led to a high demand increase. Due to its positive effects, Semaglutide was approved in 2022 under the name Wegovy for the treatment of obesity when a high BMI and other risk factors are present. The higher dosage in Wegovy is necessary to address the GLP-1 receptors in the central nervous system.
In addition to treating diabetes and obesity, Wegovy has also been associated with reducing cardiovascular complications. The Phase III SELECT study by Novo Nordisk shows an effective reduction of cardiovascular risk through Semaglutide in patients with overweight and obesity.
The Future of Diabetes Treatment
With the advent of Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) in November 2023, the first dual agonist at GLP-1 and GIP receptors for the treatment of type 2 diabetes has hit the German market. In addition, a groundbreaking breakthrough in diabetes treatment was achieved by researchers at the University of Alberta and Cornell University through the invention of an insulin-producing skin implant. This not only controls blood sugar levels but also eliminates the need for anti-rejection medications, a significant advancement in transplantation medicine.
“If we could do a transplant with less or no anti-rejection medications, we could do this much safer and include more patients who could benefit from it,” says James Shapiro, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Transplant Surgery and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Alberta.
Although still in an early stage and requiring further human testing, this revolutionary implant could potentially revolutionize the way type 1 diabetes is treated and improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.