Diabetes drug Ozempic can reduce severe liver disease risk too, ET HealthWorld

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London: Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and other GLP1 agonists — popular diabetes drugs — are also associated with a reduced risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer in people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic liver disease, according to a study.

GLP1 agonists like Ozempic reduce blood sugar levels and are mainly used to treat Type 2 diabetes. However, as the drug also reduces appetite, it is now increasingly used to treat obesity and has become a popular weight-loss drug.

The study, published in the journal Gut, showed that those who took the drug for a long period of time had a lower risk of later developing more severe forms of liver disease such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

This suggests that GLP1 agonists could be an effective treatment to avoid severe liver disease in people with concurrent Type 2 diabetes, said the researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

People with Type-2 diabetes are more likely to develop severe liver disease

“Our findings are interesting because there are currently no approved drugs to reduce this risk,” said Axel Wester, Assistant Professor at Karolinska’s Department of Medicine.

Many of the people in the study stopped taking GLP1 agonists, resulting in a lack of protective effect. However, those who continued taking their medication over a 10-year period were half as likely to develop severe liver disease.

However, “the results need to be confirmed in clinical trials, but it will take many years for these studies to be completed,” Wester said. “Therefore, we use existing registry data to try to say something about the effect of the drugs before that.”

A limitation of the method is that it is not possible to control for factors for which there is no data, such as blood tests to describe the severity of liver disease in more detail. However, the researchers have recently built a new database called HERALD where they have access to blood samples from patients.

“As a next step, we will investigate the effect of GLP1 agonists in this database,” said Hannes Hagstrom, consultant in hepatology at Karolinska.

“If we get similar results, it would further strengthen the hypothesis that GLP1 agonists can be used to reduce the risk of severe liver disease.”

  • Published On Jan 25, 2024 at 01:58 PM IST

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