To a teenager struggling with obesity, that probably sounded too good. A once-weekly injection may control diet and lead to weight loss. However, the results of clinical trials of the drug semaglutide It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month. And what was presented at Obesity Week, the leading conference in the field, turned out to be better than what participants, and even researchers, expected.
Participants receiving weekly injections of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP) receptor agonist semaglutide experienced an average 16.1% reduction in percent body mass index (BMI) compared to a 0.6% reduction in the placebo group. Results providers responded with surprise. and enthusiasm, and what the national media described as “amazing” and “amazing”.
researchers in Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Those who worked on the study chose more modest words to describe the results, but they were equally impressed.
“From what we’ve learned from using it in adult patients, we knew it was an effective weight loss drug,” he says. Lucy D. Mastrandrea, MD, PhDCo-author of the NEJM study, Associate Professor Pediatrics and its responsible Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes.
“Still, the weight loss from this combination of drugs and lifestyle changes was so dramatic, almost disturbing,” she says. here in Buffalo. “
Mastrandrea, who sees patients through UBMD Pediatrics, led a previous national study of other FDA-approved drugs to help children and adolescents with type 1 and type 2 diabetes achieve better glycemic control. Did. she also study As a result, another NEJM was published in 2020 showing that another GLP agonist, liraglutide, results in weight loss in children and adolescents.
The success of researchers at the Jacobs School in recruiting and retaining participants for that trial led Mastrandrea to participate in the teenage semaglutide trial.
“We were one of the top academic medical groups for recruiting and retaining subjects in the semaglutide study,” she says.
In total, the study included 37 sites nationwide and included 229 participants.
“We owe the successful recruitment and retention of participants to the experienced UBMD Pediatrics research team,” she adds.
Five western New York teenagers aged 13 to 17 years were recruited and four completed the trial.
“We’ve had incredible retention rates, both here in Buffalo and across the country,” adds Mastrandrea. “These teens of him saw results, so they kept using it.”
Of the four patients in Buffalo who were randomized to receive the drug in the year the study was conducted, all lost at least 5% of their body weight. Across the trial, 73% of his semaglutide-treated study participants lost at least 5% of their body weight.
“These are people who have spent years trying to manage their weight with just the primary tools we have: diet and exercise,” says Mastrandrea.
“We usually say, ‘Lose one to two pounds a week,’ so when a patient lost 20 pounds after six to eight weeks, it was a big deal,” she says. “Patients were really happy. I feel better about myself. I’m buying new clothes
Participants also showed improved levels of triglycerides and other cardiometabolic measures, as well as improved quality of life measures.
Previous studies using another drug in the same class, liraglutide, also showed significant weight loss in teenagers, but the results for semaglutide were dramatic, according to Mastrandrea.
“We didn’t compare the two drugs, but in a similar elderly population with similar levels of obesity, this study actually showed a better response to weight loss,” she says.
Semaglutide works by binding to glucagon-like peptide receptors, slowing gastric emptying.
“This mechanism feeds back to the appetite center of the brain, located in the hypothalamus, so people feel less hungry,” Mastrandrea explains.
The study included a 12-week lifestyle intervention period that required participants to engage in moderate activity at least five times a week and to follow healthy eating habits.
Mastrandrea believes that the outcomes participants saw from their medications may have had a positive impact on their level of participation in lifestyle interventions, resulting in additional weight loss.
“I think when people find success with losing weight, they start to change their behavior,” she says. , the drug may have had a positive impact on their healthy behavior.
Mastrandrea’s practice is affiliated with the Healthy Weigh Clinic at Oishei Children’s Hospital.
This study was funded by Novo Nordisk, which manufactures semaglutide.