A ‘holy grail’ weight loss jab can help people lose more than 2.4 stone in just over a year, according to a new study.
The £73-a-month drug, which is called semaglutide, hijacks the appetite regulating system in the brain and tells your stomach you are full.
Study participants who received the weekly jab lost 2.4 stone over 68 weeks, while the placebo group only lost 0.4 stone.
Reacting to the remarkable findings, Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly hinted that the injection could be a ‘holy grail’ solution to the obesity crisis.
He said: “For obvious reasons, finding an effective and safe appetite suppressant to treat obesity has been a ‘holy grail’ of obesity research for many decades.
“Many previous promising candidates have failed either because they were not very effective, or if they were, had dangerous side effects.
“The results presented in this paper suggest that semaglutide is very effective as a weight loss agent and that, while it does have side effects, these are predictable, reversible and not sufficiently serious to raise significant alarm.”
More than one third of people who took the drug lost over 20% of their body weight, according to the study, which involved UCL researchers.
The drug could now play a major part in helping the UK to reduce the impact of obesity and diseases, such as Covid-19, experts suggest.
Researchers say that for the first time it is possible to achieve through drugs what was previously only possible through weight-loss surgery.
Professor Rachel Batterham, who helped organise the study, said: “The findings of this study represent a major breakthrough for improving the health of people with obesity.
“Three quarters (75%) of people who received semaglutide 2.4mg lost more than 10% of their body weight and more than one-third lost more than 20%.
“No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss – this really is a gamechanger.
“For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery.”
The drug’s effect on weight loss was accompanied by reductions in risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as waist circumference, blood fats, blood sugar and more.
The trial’s UK chief investigator, Professor John Wilding, University of Liverpool, said: “This is a significant advance in the treatment of obesity.
“Semaglutide is already approved and used clinically at a lower dose for treatment of diabetes, so as doctors we are already familiar with its use.”
It has now been submitted for regulatory approval as a treatment for obesity to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).