In a small study involving only 10 people, semaglutide, a Type 2 drug, was given to people with Type 1 diabetes soon after the diagnosis. This led to no need for mealtime insulin in all patients and no need for basal insulin in most, along with improved glycaemic control. (The New England Journal of Medicine. September 2023)
Before building up our hopes, we have to recognise that this is a very small study and a much larger study is needed. In addition, we have to question whether there could be adverse effects.
What is semiglutide?
Semaglutide (Ozempic) helps reduce blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of insulin released, preventing glucagon release, and slowing how fast the stomach empties. It is given by a weekly injection under the skin. It is a safe and effective treatment for adults with Type 2 diabetes.
Taking this research in the UK
Professor Timothy Barrett, a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Birmingham, is planning to test whether semaglutide can help children and young people with Type 1 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels alongside insulin. In most children and young people with Type 1 blood sugars are often too high, despite however hard they try to avoid this. This research is to establish whether semaglutide, along with insulin, can help young people can keep blood sugars lower and lower the risks of complications.
The researchers will run their clinical trial at four hospitals in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leicester and Sheffield. 230 people with Type 1 between the ages of 10-24 years old will take part in the clinical trial. The participants will be given semaglutide for six months, plus their usual insulin treatment.