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Advances in GLP-1 treatment: focus on oral semaglutide

Freddy G. Eliaschewitz, Luis Henrique Canani
Published: 15 September 2021

Abstract: Background There is currently a large arsenal of antidiabetic drugs available to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, this is a serious chronic disease that affects millions of adults worldwide and is responsible for severe complications, comorbidities, and low quality of life when uncontrolled due mainly to delays in initiating treatment or inadequate therapy. This review article aims to clarify the therapeutic role of the oral formulation of the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) semaglutide in treating typical T2D patients. The discussion focused on metabolic, glycemic, and weight alteration effects and the safety of the therapy with this drug. Main text Therapy with glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) promotes strategic changes in the pathophysiological pathway of T2D and improves the secretion of glucagon and insulin, which results in a reduction in blood glucose levels and the promotion of weight loss. Until recently, the only route for semaglutide administration was parenteral. However, an oral formulation of GLP-1 RA was recently developed and approved by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on the Peptide Innovation for Early Diabetes Treatment (PIONEER) program results. A sequence of 10 clinical studies compared oral semaglutide with placebo or active standard-of-care medications (empagliflozin 25 mg, sitagliptin 100 mg, or liraglutide 1.8 mg) in different T2D populations. Conclusions Oral semaglutide effectively reduces glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels and body weight in a broad spectrum of patients with T2D and shows cardiovascular safety. Oral semaglutide broadens therapy options and facilitates the adoption of earlier GLP-1 RA treatment once T2D patients present low rates of treatment discontinuation. The main adverse events reported were related to the gastrointestinal tract, common to GLP-1 RA class drugs.
Keywords: Oral semaglutide / Glycemic control / GLP-1 RA / PIONEER program / Type 2 diabetes

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