Repurposed drug promotes weight loss and cardiovascular health in adolescents

November 4, 2022

Repurposed drug promotes weight loss and cardiovascular health in adolescentsOverweight adolescents testing out an FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved drug for weight loss in adults reported an average weight loss of at least 5%, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, US. Treatment with the drug – semaglutide, initially approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes – was also shown to improve certain markers of cardiovascular health in the adolescent group.

The drug works to reduce feelings of hunger by mimicking the chemical structure of a hormone in the body that would then act on the appetite control center in the brain.

An initial trial with a set of obese, adult participants proved the drug’s merit as a weight loss drug: participants were observed to have an average weight loss of 15.3 kg (33.7 lb), and an average body mass index (BMI) reduction of 5.54%, along with reduced risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

To ascertain the drug’s potential in adolescents, another study was conducted, this time with obese or overweight participants aged 12 to 18 years. The young participants were given weekly injections of either semaglutide or a placebo and were simultaneously counselled on nutrition and physical activity.

After 68 weeks, 72.5% of the semaglutide group had experienced weight loss of at least 5%, compared to just 17% in the placebo group; the semaglutide group had an average 16.1% decrease in their BMI, while the placebo group’s BMI rose by an average of 0.6%; and finally, notable improvements were made in cardiovascular risk factors, including waist circumference, cholesterol, and blood sugar control.

“For a person who is 5 foot, 5 inches [165 cm] tall and weighs 240 pounds [109 kg], the average reduction in BMI equates to shedding about 40 pounds [18 kg],” Dr. Silva Arslanian, Professor of Paediatrics and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

Obesity is known to affect almost one in five children and adolescents worldwide. This chronic disease is linked with decreased life expectancy and higher risk of developing serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apneoa, and certain cancers.

Besides physical downsides, teenagers with obesity are also more likely to have depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and a host of other psychological issues.


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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