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Novel long-acting GLP-1 agonist offers hope for type 2 diabetics

HQ Team

November 4, 2023: Scientists at the University of Tabriz, Iran, have done pioneering work on a long-acting GLP-1 agonist that holds promise for revolutionizing the management of type 2 diabetes.

The global diabetes epidemic

Diabetes is a global health crisis, affecting an estimated 529 million individuals worldwide. With projections indicating a staggering increase to 1.31 billion by 2050, innovative solutions are urgently needed to tackle this chronic condition.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for over 90% of diabetes cases, is characterized by the body’s reduced response to insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels. Multiple factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and age, contribute to its onset.

Management of type 2 diabetes typically involves diet, exercise, and medications such as metformin, insulin, and GLP-1 receptor agonists. These GLP-1 agonists, though effective, have a limitation in their short duration of action, necessitating frequent injections or daily tablet intake.

Short-acting and long-acting GLP-1 receptor agonists are both available, with the latter requiring injections once daily or weekly. While they effectively lower blood glucose levels, their short half-life poses challenges for patients.

GLP-1 agonist variants

Among these agonists, liraglutide, semaglutide, and dulaglutide have gained recognition for their ability to reduce fasting blood glucose levels and stimulate insulin secretion.

The groundbreaking study from the University of Tabriz presents an innovative approach by creating chimeric proteins that combine GLP-1 with a human serum albumin-binding DARPin. These engineered proteins show potential for overcoming the short half-life limitation of native GLP-1.

The study’s preliminary results highlight the potential of long-lasting injectable GLP-1 agonists and oral medicine encapsulated in plant cells. However, further research and clinical trials are essential to validate these findings and assess safety and efficacy.

While GLP-1 agonists offer advantages in diabetes management, they come with side effects, including gastrointestinal discomfort. The new long-acting variants may offer improved bioavailability, but concerns about adverse immune reactions, cost, and administration method must be addressed through rigorous experimentation and clinical trials.

The research from the University of Tabriz signifies a significant step towards transforming diabetes treatment. However, it may take time before long-acting drugs become available to type 2 diabetes patients.

The study is published in Nature Scientific Reports

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