New drug can help reduce weight in diabetics

70a40d4c4991.jpgGlucagon-like Peptide 1, otherwise known as GLP1, is a new drug that will assist type two diabetes patients to manage the disease as well as lose weight in the process. Losing weight is an ultimate goal for most diabetes sufferers with excess weight.

Professor Juris Meier from Germany’€™s Rhur University, says GLP1 is most suitable for diabetics because of its ability to enable weight loss.  

‘€œUnfortunately, many of the drugs we have used so far in diabetes management, such as insulin cause an increase in body weight over time. And, in studies, this has been as high as 8 kilograms over 12 years, which is quite substantial. And, of course, (for) our patients who are type two diabetes, weight loss is a typical treatment goal. That is why treatment-related weight gain is quite unfavourable’€.

Professor Meier explains how the GLP1 drug functions in the body.

‘€œThe GLP1 based drugs, enhance the secretion of insulin from the pancreas and suppress the lower counter-part of insulin called glucagon. And, through this combination, it affects the lower glucose concentrations and has additional interesting effects such as reduction in body weight during the treatment. Importantly, they don’€™t cause hypoglycaemia, which is low blood sugar. They seem to be very safe in this regard’€.  

He says the drug has very few negatives and adds that a small number of people would discontinue the treatment due to bad side-effects.

‘€œThere are treatment-related side-effects, the most common being nausea. We do see that in almost 30-percent of patients who take this GLP1 analogue. There is nausea at the beginning of treatment and in about 8 to 10 percent, this can lead to vomiting. I would say one out of 10 patients would discontinue because of that side-effect. But, typical of treatment, after a few weeks this goes away and it is, therefore, not a major barrier for most patients’€, says Meier.

Clinical psychologist, Liane Lurie, points out that type two diabetes can have serious psychological effects just like any other chronic illness. She says denial, depression and anger are usually the main ones. Lurie says patients often suffer from diabetes burnout when they see their efforts of living a healthier lifestyle, such as trying to lose weight, not yielding any results.

‘€œWhen they have been advised to exercise more as the disease progresses, it almost feels as though their efforts are counter-productive. So, they go through a cycle of hopelessness and despair and, ultimately, may give up. They say: ‘€˜Well, if my efforts are not going to lead to anything, what kind of life can I lead?’€™’€, says Lurie.

Liezel Botha attests to Lurie’€™s assessment. She was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes in 2007. Botha has a family history of the disease. Her brother is suffering from renal failure due to uncontrolled diabetes. Botha says she was in denial when she was diagnosed.

‘€œThe psyche of the disease is very important in getting you over the hurdle of denial to accepting and moving on. Too many diabetics stay in that denial stage that causes complications in controlling the disease at a later stage’€.

After a few set-backs in treatment, Botha’€™s doctor advised her to begin treatment on the new GLP1 drug. She says the drug has helped control her diabetes and has given her strength to manage her life again.

‘€œThank God for this new product. It was life-changing to have energy, to be able to go to work and feel you can do it, to go to sleep and to feel refreshed and not wake up and feel like you haven’€™t closed your eyes… Just to be able to do things that I wasn’€™t able to do. So, all of those things have changed, having my life back has been phenomenal’€, says Botha.

The drug can be prescribed to anyone with type two diabetes. In  overweight people it has the added benefit of weight loss.


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