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New Horizons for Obesity Research

Discussions on GLP-1 with Richard DiMarchi.

Published December 04, 2015

New Horizons for Obesity Research

Since the launch of GLP-1 receptor agonists to treat type 2 diabetes nearly 10 years ago, studies have suggested that this new class of drugs could have expanded therapeutic applications—particularly for treating obesity. Richard DiMarchi, PhD, is notable for having discovered the fast-acting insulin analog Humalog for the treatment of diabetes, but his current work has shifted to researching GLP-1 for targeting maturity-onset diseases linked to obesity and excess weight. Here, Dr. DiMarchi shares some of his insights into this therapeutic area, which is the subject of his talk at an upcoming Academy symposium.

With 78 million adults in the United States meeting the criteria for obesity, research on GLP-1 in reducing body weight and metabolic diseases is particularly pressing. "A significant number of the abnormalities that we see—glucose, lipids, blood pressure—in patients that are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are associated with their excess body weight," states Dr. DiMarchi. "As a glycemic agent, it (GLP-1) provides a unique efficacy. The benefits it brings to lower lipids and decreased body weight are elements that we have previously not seen in other therapeutics for treatment of adult-onset disease. The combination of GLP-1 with insulin is showing significant benefits in the ability to minimize the amount of insulin being used and with that, less body weight, and less life-threatening hypoglycemia."

Dr. Marchi coined the term chemical biotechnology to describe new efforts to hone the pharmaceutics of GLP-1 through biochemical optimization and additional pharmacological approaches for even greater treatment outcomes. The goal of this work is to apply chemical biotechnology to existing treatments like GLP-1 to further enhance the ability of the drugs to correct glucose elevation and contribute to weight loss, without increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. Thus far a new peptide that combines GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon agonists has shown to be effective in improving blood glucose and reducing appetite without hypoglycemia in preclinical trials.

Dr. DiMarchi will be presenting at the upcoming symposium "GLP-1 Treatment for Diabetes and Beyond." The event will also be available as a Webinar.