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Paresh Dandona, MD PhD

Combining insulin with liraglutide has achieved “dramatic and rapid improvement” in several measures for those with Type 1 diabetes, says Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD.

Published April 10, 2013

$2.1 Million Funds Study of Promising Diabetes Treatment

Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine, has received two new grants totaling more than $2.1 million to further study liraglutide, an insulin additive that could change the course of treatment for Type I diabetes.

“If, indeed, this research confirms a beneficial effect, liraglutide ... could become a routine part of the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.”
Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD
SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine

Support includes a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and a $712,000 grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

“If, indeed, this research confirms a beneficial effect, liraglutide and other glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 agonists could become routine,” says Dandona.

Major Trial; Obese Patient Study Underway

With the NIH grant, Dondona and his team will conduct the first placebo-controlled, prospective, randomized study to determine the effect of adding liraglutide to insulin.

This 56-week study of 90 people with Type 1 diabetes also will assess whether the drug suppresses the blood-sugar-raising hormone glucagon following meals.

In addition, using the foundation grant, Dandona will study the effect of liraglutide on 70 obese patients.

Insulin Alone Not Enough

Liraglutide is a GLP-1 analog marketed as Victoza and currently used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

For those with Type 1 diabetes, insulin alone has been the only treatment option available since 1921. Finding an alternative is important because “a majority of these patients are not well controlled—in spite of clever insulin-delivering devices and continuous glucose monitoring,” says Dandona, chief of endocrinology and metabolism.

If successful, adding liraglutide will improve overall diabetic control without increasing the risk for hypoglycemia, he adds, noting that it could also lead to a potential reduction in microvascular complications of diabetes.

Concurrent Studies Assess Younger Patients; Dosage

Concurrently, Dandona is leading two continuing studies of liraglutide. One is assessing the effect of the drug on 45 patients age 16 to 30, using a previously awarded grant from the American Diabetes Association. Another is determining the correct dose of liraglutide through a 72-person study funded by Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer.

Earlier Studies Show Marked Improvements

Dandona’s prior research discovered that GLP-1 drugs exert a potent anti-inflammatory action. 

In addition, a smaller study with liraglutide showed that even difficult-to-treat patients achieved “dramatic and rapid improvement” in several measures, notes Dandona.

Improvements included reduced insulin dose, lower systolic blood pressure and a marked drop in instances of hyper- and hypoglycemia.

These highly encouraging results were presented at the Endocrine Society’s 2012 Annual Meeting.