Weight Loss Drug Wegovy’s Next Act: Treating Alzheimer’s?

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By Simon Spichak, MSc | June seventh, 2023

New weight reduction and diabetes medication that dampen starvation alerts within the mind, like Wegovy and Ozempic, may have the ability to shield the getting old mind from Alzheimer’s as nicely.

Have you ever heard of Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro? These new drugs  — that muffle starvation alerts within the mind  — are all the fashion. Along with treating diabetes, they’re additionally prescribed for treating weight problems. Unsurprisingly, celebrities are utilizing it off-label to lose further weight, together with everybody from Elon Musk to Meghan McCain, fueling fervent discourse over weight reduction and fatphobia.

There’s now preliminary knowledge that these medication might deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjara are already FDA-approved for treating different diabetes and weight problems,  recognized threat elements for Alzheimer’s. Medical trials are already recruiting members for a late-stage Alzheimer’s trial. This can check whether or not the energetic ingredient behind Wegovy and Ozempic might stave off the illness.

“Sustaining a traditional weight appears to be fairly vital for stopping cognitive decline,” mentioned Heather Ferris, a medical endocrinologist and scientist on the College of Virginia that research Alzheimer’s. Ferris, who isn’t instantly concerned in these trials, added that these medication “may fit higher for these [patients] with diabetes” however is worked up to see whether or not these medication might result in new Alzheimer’s therapies.

What scientists know to date about weight reduction medication and dementia

Scientists discovered one thing shocking within the trial knowledge for Wegovy and different medication that dampened starvation within the mind. Sufferers taking these medication slashed their threat of dementia in half over the following four-and-a-half years, in comparison with placebo. 

Knowledge from 120,000 diabetes sufferers in Denmark confirmed these findings. Individuals who took medication like Wegovy have been 11 p.c much less more likely to develop dementia. However scientists couldn’t reply in the event that they merely handled a threat issue or impacted the mind in one other method. That’s why they’re now testing these medication in opposition to Alzheimer’s and dementia in individuals who don’t have diabetes or weight problems.

How far alongside are medical trials for Wegovy, Ozempic and Alzheimer’s?

Novo Nordisk is presently testing whether or not a drug utilizing the identical energetic ingredient at Wegovy and Ozempic — known as semaglutide — might deal with sufferers with gentle cognitive impairment and early stage Alzheimer’s. Since medication comprised of the identical energetic ingredient have already been examined for security and accredited for different circumstances, the drugmaker can safely leap straight to Section 3 medical trials. 

“If that trial seems detrimental I don’t know that it is going to be the tip of the story,” Ferris defined. The medical trials for diabetes and weight problems used an injectable model of this drug. This fashion the drug bypasses the digestive system, permitting extra of the drug to get into the bloodstream. However the Alzheimer’s trial is testing a capsule type of semaglutide which signifies that much less of the drug will attain the mind.

Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro is anticipated to be accredited for weight reduction by the FDA within the coming months. For the reason that energetic ingredient tirzepatide additionally targets the same pathway within the mind, tirzepatide might additionally ultimately be examined for treating Alzheimer’s as nicely. Lilly’s patents on the drug point out Alzheimer’s illness as a possible use case.  

Diabetes and weight problems are two of the eight most vital threat elements for Alzheimer’s, that are related to about one in each three instances. Whereas medication like Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro aren’t a magic resolution, the medication assist some folks decrease their blood glucose ranges and shed extra pounds. If the medication show promising in Alzheimer’s trials, it strengthens the case for turning down the mind’s starvation alerts to forestall or deal with Alzheimer’s.