"We want more medications that have this type of profile," Dr. Alan Garber, a professor of medicine, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, and lead author of the liraglutide/glimepiride trial, said at the time of its release.
"It is very well-tolerated, has few side effects and can lead to weight loss," Garber said. "Most diabetes medications now produce weight gain, and that is very discouraging to our patients."
In related news, also published simultaneously in The Lancet and at the diabetes association meeting, researchers reported data from a phase II trial for another experimental diabetes drug, aleglitazar. That trial assessed the safety and effectiveness of the drug, one of a class of medications called PPAR co-agonists that affect both blood sugar control and fat.
In the 16-week trial, 332 patients with type 2 diabetes received either once-daily doses of aleglitazar (at varying doses), the diabetes drug pioglitazone (Actos), or a placebo.
At lower doses, aleglitazar appeared safe and effective, with less incidence of heart failure or edema than either Actos or placebo; it produced less weight gain than Actos when given at the 150-microgram dose.
"The favorable balance in the safety and efficacy profile of aleglitazar represents encouraging short-term clinical data for this agent, and provides good evidence to enter phase III investigation," wrote a team led by Dr. Robert R. Henry of the University of California, San Diego.
The study was funded by aleglitazar's maker, F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG.
Today's oral medications for diabetes are described by the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Alan Garber, M.D., Ph.D., professor, medicine, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Sten Madsbad, M.D., professor, endocrinology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; June 8, 2009, The Lancet, online