A Type 1 Drug That Isn't Insulin

Victoza added to insulin in obese type 1 diabetics improves blood sugar control

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Type 1 and type 2 diabetes may have many different characteristics, but they are similar in many more ways. These similarities could mean that treatments for one type of diabetes may also be used for the other.

Obese patients with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes may improve their blood sugar control by taking Victoza (liraglutide), a type 2 diabetes drug, in addition to their insulin treatment.

"Control your blood sugar to prevent complications of diabetes."

Blood sugar control was not the only thing that improved for type 1 diabetes patients taking liraglutide. These patients also shed excess weight and lowered their blood pressure.

"These results are extremely relevant because in most patients with type 1 diabetes, the disease is not well controlled," says Paresh Dandona, MD, of State University at New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and one of the study's authors.  The study included 27 obese adults with type 1 diabetes.

"At last we may be able to offer the type 1 diabetic population a medication besides insulin," he says.

For nearly a century, the only drug treatment for diabetes has been insulin, a naturally occurring hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Last year, Dr. Dandona and his fellow researchers showed that liraglutide could be used in type 1 diabetes patients.

Now they put the drug to the test again, but this time they tested in type 1 patients with poor blood sugar control.

After six months of treatment with liraglutide, participants improved their HbA1c levels (a measure of blood sugar over three months) from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent.

Most diabetes organizations suggest patients try to reach an HbA1c of 7.0 percent or less.

The researchers also found that patients taking liraglutide lowered their insulin dose from 73 units to less than 60 units.

In addition, patients lost an average of 10 pounds and reduced their body mass index (BMI) from 33.4 to 31.7 - a measure at the lower end of the obesity spectrum.

Type 1 patients taking liraglutide lowered their blood pressure from 130 to 120 millimeters of mercury, which is closer to normal.

According to Dr. Dandona, these findings are important because most type 1 diabetes patients also have metabolic syndrome - a name for the group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Dandona recommends that researchers continue to conduct large-scale studies to gain further understanding of liraglutide in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

This study was presented at the 94th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society. As such, it has yet to be assessed by a peer-reviewed scientific journal. 

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Review Date: 
June 27, 2012
Last Updated:
December 4, 2012