A new weight-loss injection could help fat people beat the bulge.
Scientists say the drug — yet to be named — is even better than already-approved medicines.
The jab hijacks the body’s own appetite-regulating system within the brain, tricking people into feeling full.
US researchers tested BI 456906, as it is currently labelled, on 400 overweight and obese people in their fifties.
They weighed 15st 4lbs (97kg), on average, before the four-month trial began.
People given the highest dose shed roughly 9 per cent of their body weight — the equivalent of 1st 5lbs (8.7kg).
For comparison, patients given Wegovy — another weight loss drug approved in the UK and US over the past year and described by experts as a ‘game changer’ — lost 5.4 per cent. This was the equivalent of 12lbs (5.2kg).
A US study saw around 400 overweight and obese people in their fifties given an injection that lowers their food intake and blood sugar levels. Those taking the highest dose of the drug, called BI 456906, saw the scales drop by nine per cent in just four months
Wegovy, made by the Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk (above) contains semaglutide, a synthesised version of a gut hormone that curbs appetite
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX – AND WHAT IT MEANS
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
- BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703
- BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))
- Under 18.5: Underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
- 25 – 29.9: Overweight
- 30 – 39.9: Obese
- 40+: Morbidly obese
BI 456906 is still being trialled and must clear more scientific hurdles before it is ever approved.
But its creators, German and Danish firms Boehringer Ingelheim and Zealand Pharma, believe it could eventually be given to ‘many’ overweight patients’ who are ‘in need of new treatment options’.
It could also be rolled out for patients with type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the future.
BI 456906 works in a near-identical way to Wegovy, which was found to be just as effective as gastric band surgery.
It triggers the body to produce glucagon-like peptide-1, released naturally from the intestines after meals.
The hormone helps to control blood sugar and makes people feel full, so they know when to stop eating.
Dr Julio Rosenstock, director of Dallas Diabetes Research Center, and team recruited 411 people with type 2 diabetes.
The participants, who were all classed as overweight or obese, were divided into eight groups of around 50 people.
Six of the cohorts were given BI 456906 — either a 0.3, 0.9, 1.8 or 2.7mg weekly dose or a 1.2 or 1.8mg dose bi-weekly.
Another group was given a placebo jab.
The final cohort was given 1mg injection of semaglutide, the generic name for Wegovy.
Results showed lower doses of BI 456906 worked just as well as Wegovy, which was approved in the US last summer and given the green light in Britain earlier this year. But the strongest bi-weekly dose of the unapproved drug worked better.
The results are set to be presented The Obesity Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, California next week.
Among those taking BI 456906, the 0.3mg dose lost 1.9 per cent of their body weight, while the 0.9mg group lost 4.4 per cent, the 1.8mg cohort lost 6.6 per cent and 2.7mg group shed 6.7 per cent.
Those taking the drug bi-weekly saw the scales drop the most — either by 7.2 per cent (1.2mg dose) or 9 per cent (1.8mg dose).
The placebo group saw the smallest fall in their weight, losing just 1.2 per cent.
The researchers admitted that eight in 10 people taking BI 456906 reported side effects, most of which related to their digestion. This forced 15.9 per cent of those taking the drug to quit the study.
The reactions were worsen as the dose increased and when the drug was taken for longer periods of time, the researchers said.
The team suggested that people could be started on a low dose of the drug and before slowly increasing how much they take over time to avoid side effects.