(Reuters) – Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster diabetes medication Ozempic and weight loss therapy Wegovy are being investigated to determine if they can improve health in other ways.
Both treatments contain the active ingredient semaglutide, which belongs to the class of GLP-1 medications and helps control blood sugar levels and induces a feeling of fullness.
New data suggests that semaglutide may also reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack and delay the progression of kidney disease in diabetes patients.
Below are additional conditions against which GLP-1 treatments are being tested:
Chronic kidney disease
* Eli Lilly’s tirzepatide, a GLP-1 therapy sold as Mounjaro for diabetes and Zepbound for weight loss, is being studied in a medium-sized trial for chronic kidney disease in obese patients. Lilly plans to enroll up to 140 participants.
* Lilly is also testing tirzepatide in patients with heart failure and obesity. The study is expected to include about 700 participants and is projected to be completed by July 2024.
* Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong are testing Novo’s semaglutide in combination with mechanical removal of blood clots in patients with strokes caused by blockage of large blood vessels in the brain, compared to standard therapy. The medium-sized trial aims to recruit about 140 patients.
* Researchers at the Danish Headache Center in Denmark are testing semaglutide as a treatment for newly diagnosed idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a condition associated with obesity that leads to increased pressure in the head, along with a very low-calorie diet. The study aims to recruit about 50 patients and is expected to be completed by 2025.
* Novo has initiated a study testing semaglutide in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which will involve 1,840 patients, could reach its primary completion as early as 2025.
* Novo is testing semaglutide in a late-stage trial in patients with a type of fatty liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The study is expected to include about 1,200 patients and is projected to be completed by 2028.
* Lilly’s tirzepatide is also being studied in a medium-sized trial in almost 200 NASH patients.
* Researchers at the University Hospital of Toulouse, France, tested Sanofi SA’s GLP-1 drug Lixisenatide, marketed as Adlyxin, for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in addition to standard anti-Parkinson’s medications in a medium-sized trial involving about 156 patients with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. Preliminary results suggested that the therapy could slow the progression of motor symptoms. Additional data is expected by early 2024.
* Lilly’s tirzepatide is in late-stage testing for the treatment of patients with obstructive sleep apnea and obesity, including individuals using breathing devices to keep their airways open during sleep, as well as those not using such devices. The study is expected to involve about 469 participants.
* In a pilot study sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, researchers found that Novo’s GLP-1 drug Victoza or liraglutide helped reduce the severity of sleep apnea in 12 out of 18 adult patients without diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
* Researchers at the Women’s Hospital in Los Angeles found that liraglutide, the active ingredient in Novo’s Victoza and Saxenda medications, helped significantly reduce elevated testosterone levels in obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. The late-stage study involved 88 participants.
* An experimental Lilly GLP-1, retatrutide, is being investigated in patients who are overweight and suffering from knee osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Up to 405 patients are currently being enrolled in the study.
* A study at the Psychiatric Center of Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, is investigating whether treatment with semaglutide contributes to reducing alcohol consumption in 108 patients diagnosed with alcohol dependence and obesity.
(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija and Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Nancy Lapid and Rosalba O’Brien)