UCD – Drug can reduce risk of developing diabetes by 80 per cent, study shows

  • Drug reduces chances of developing diabetes by 80 per cent
  • Pre-diabetes also reversed in 60 per cent of those on trial

An injected drug that lowers blood sugar levels can reduce the chances of those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 80 per cent, according to new research led by a scientist at University College Dublin.

The drug, liraglutide, promotes weight loss by interacting with the areas of the brain that control appetite and energy intake.

The study involved a major international trial conducted over three years in which 2,254 adults with pre-diabetes participated at 191 research sites in 27 countries. The findings of the study were published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

The aim of the trial was to evaluate whether liraglutide can safely delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in participants with pre-diabetes.

The trial results show that continuous treatment with the drug over three years helped to prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in participants by 80 per cent when combined with diet and exercise.

In 60 per cent of those patients, pre-diabetes was completely reversed and patients returned to healthy blood sugar levels.

Of those patients who went on to develop diabetes, those who had been taking the drug took three times longer to develop the disease than those in the placebo group.

Liraglutide also helped to sustain greater weight loss when compared to the placebo.

Pre-diabetes is a metabolic condition that is closely tied to obesity. If undiagnosed or untreated, it can develop into type 2 diabetes, which is treatable, but not reversible.

In Ireland, one in ten of the population have pre-diabetes, and pre-diabetes and obesity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes and its complications. Pre-diabetes progresses into type 2 diabetes in five to ten per cent of sufferers within ten years.

These individuals are at risk of a range of conditions that can affect their overall health, including type 2 diabetes and its complications, as well as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Professor Carel le Roux from the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre, UCD School of Medicine and Fellow, UCD Conway Institute is an obesity specialist and the corresponding author on the study.

“In this study, we wanted to see if this drug in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and lifestyle intervention could delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in a high-risk population with obesity and pre-diabetes,” he said.

“On the basis of our findings, liraglutide 3.0 mg can provide us with a new therapeutic approach for patients with obesity and pre-diabetes to substantially reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its related complications.”

The study is entitled: 3 years’ of liraglutide versus placebo for type 2 diabetes risk reduction and weight management in individuals with prediabetes: a randomised, double-blind trial

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations

UCD cancer research to reduce number of patients exposed to excessive treatment

  • €2.5m funding will support more accurate breast and prostate cancer diagnosis
  • This will save patients from unnecessary chemotherapy or surgery

A UCD cancer research project that aims to reduce the harmful effects of over-treatment by more accurately diagnosing patients has received €2.5 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

OPTi-PREDICT will develop two biomarker panels to assess the risk of breast and prostate cancer progression. A biomarker is an indicator of the presence and severity of a disease. Examples include genes or proteins.

OncoMasTR will be used in breast cancer diagnosis and Pro-RISK CAL will be used for prostate diagnosis. Together they will reduce the number of patients who suffer the harmful effects of unnecessary chemotherapy or surgery.

The project will be led by Professor William Gallagher, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and Professor William Watson, UCD School of Medicine. Professor Gallagher and Professor Watson are also Fellows at UCD Conway Institute.

Pictured: Micrograph of signet ring cells (arising from breast). H&E stain. Nephron/Creative Commons.

“This highly interdisciplinary and translational research programme, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, will allow us to fast-track development of novel diagnostic solutions for two of the most significant cancer types to affect men and women,” said Professor Gallagher.

“A key element of our approach is comprehensive clinical validation of the new decision support systems developed, such that they can be provided in the short-term as useful aids to spare patients from unnecessary treatment.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, making up a quarter of all cancer diagnoses with approximately 1.6 million new cases each year.

In men, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin related cancer in developed countries with almost one million cases each year. Like breast cancer, current standard testing can result in over-diagnosis and excessive treatment.

The OPTi-PREDICT group will collaborate with digital healthcare company Optimata. They will develop two computerised systems to support decision making and provide more personalised treatment choice.