Injecting a certain type of diabetes drug can reduce the risk of heart disease by 26 per cent, according to a new study.
Semaglutide is part of the GLP-1 drug class which is designed to increase the body’s insulin production when blood sugar levels are raised.
The drug, which should be taken once a week, is made by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
These results from the SUSTAIN 6 trial were unveiled at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2016 and also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr Steven Marso, the lead author for the study, said: “The reduction in cardiovascular events observed with semaglutide in SUSTAIN 6 is notable given the small study population and the short trial duration.
“These findings are clinically relevant, as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes and new treatment options that can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular events are needed.”
The study also found that semaglutide significantly reduced non-fatal stroke by 39 per cent.
The trial was a randomised investigation which compared the drug with a placebo in people with type 2 diabetes at high risk of heart disease.
A total of 3,297 people took part from 20 countries and they participated for 104 weeks.
Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer of Novo Nordisk, said: “The results of SUSTAIN 6 support the strong potential of once-weekly semaglutide in type 2 diabetes treatment and we look forward to regulatory submission later this year.
“The SUSTAIN 6 results further strengthen the clinical evidence for the Novo Nordisk GLP-1 receptor agonist portfolio with the finding of additional benefits beyond glycaemic control and weight loss in adults with type 2 diabetes at high cardiovascular risk.”
Heart disease causes about half of deaths in people with diabetes, which is why reducing the risk such as heart attacks and strokes is crucial.
Novo Nordisk is also working on an oral version of semaglutide which would be the first GLP-1 to be given as a pill rather than an injection.