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Medicine offers weight-loss hope for patients with type-2 diabetes

New research by academics at the University of Leicester has given fresh hope to patients with type-2 diabetes, after Eli Lilly and Company’s SURPASS-2 clinical trial showed that 60% of patients achieved a 10% percent or greater weight loss with 15 mg of the medicine tirzepatide after four weeks.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 81st Scientific Sessions, the research demonstrated how the medicine helped patients keep a healthy blood sugar level (less than 6.5%) without experiencing significant or severe hypoglycaemia (where the level of glucose in a patient’s blood drops too low). 

The research was led by Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), and NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus and Investigator of SURPASS-2.

Professor Davies said: “The outcomes of the tirzepatide trial offer enhanced results compared to those patients taking injectable semaglutide, where only 20% of patients achieved the same outcomes, compared to 60% on tirzepatide.

“In SURPASS-2, tirzepatide delivered clinically meaningful efficacy, and superior HbA1C and weight reductions compared to semaglutide. Head-to-head data like these are significant, and underscore that, if approved, tirzepatide may be a promising new treatment option for people with type-2 diabetes here in the UK.”

Dr Kunal Gulati, Senior Medical Lead Diabetes, Lilly Northern Europe said: “These data suggest that tirzepatide has the potential to be a new treatment option to help people with type 2 diabetes better manage HbA1C and weight,” 

“As a leader in diabetes care, Lilly is proud to be researching and developing solutions that can lead to meaningful HbA1C reductions and weight loss to help meet the needs of people with type 2 diabetes.”

A total of 1,879 people took part in the study. These patients had been diagnosed with diabetes for around eight and a half years, had an average blood glucose level of 8.28% and average weight of 93.7kg.

Being overweight or obese is a significant contributor to type-2 diabetes. Many patients can manage their type-2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, and using medications to help control blood sugar, or achieve glycemic control. 

The LDC has a world-renowned, multi-disciplinary research team, which is leading the way on providing the evidence behind the Leicester Diabetes Centre’s education programmes, and widening the knowledge base for health and disease management.

This study was also supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, of which Professor Davies is the Director.

David Batson, 64 from Leicestershire participated in the trial to try to improve his health after being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes around seven years ago. David also has high blood pressure. 

He explained: “During the trial my health felt much better, both in my mind and my body. I felt lighter due to weight loss, which made me more confident and my high blood pressure disappeared. Tirzepatide made my life feel normal and I could wake up each morning and not worry about losing my sight.”