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Lilly's diabetes therapy helps reduce blood sugar, weight in mid-stage study

Eli Lilly and Co. said a mid-stage study of its diabetes therapy showed a reduction in blood sugar levels and weight of type 2 diabetes patients by an average of 2.4% and 12.7%, respectively.

The Indianapolis-based company announced strong results from a phase 2b study for its weekly dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist, also known as GIP/GLP-1 RA, on Oct. 4. GIP and GLP-1 receptor agonists belong to a class of drugs that help control blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes by stimulating the GLP-1 protein to increase insulin secretion.

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Eli Lilly's study involved 300 type 2 diabetes patients and compared four different doses of GIP/GLP-1 RA to placebo and the company's other diabetes medicine Trulicity.

After 26 weeks of treatment, 30% of patients who received Eli Lilly's therapy in a 15-milligram dose showed blood sugar levels of less than 5.7%, the normal range for people without diabetes. Up to 90% of the patients in the 10-milligram group reached a blood sugar target of 7% or less versus Trulicity's 51.9%.

Results also showed that the GIP/GLP-1 RA therapy reduced weight across all doses, with those who received the 15-milligram dose experiencing weight loss of 11.3 kilograms, compared to Trulicity's 2.7 kilograms and the placebo's 0.4 kilograms.

The most common side effects were gastrointestinal-related and dose-dependent, such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, Eli Lilly noted. The adverse events were typically mild to moderate and generally temporary.

Juan Frias, president and principal investigator for the National Research Institute, said the results were "unprecedented" and "impressive" and could lead to new treatment options for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Eli Lilly will further evaluate GIP/GLP-1 RA in a phase 3 study known as Surpass, which is set to begin in early 2019 and finish in late 2021. The company also plans to examine the therapy as a potential treatment of obesity and other conditions.