Once-a-week insulin shot for type 2 diabetes passes Phase 2 trials
The promising results of a Phase 2 trial testing a new, once-weekly insulin treatment for type 2 diabetes have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The weekly injection was found to be as safe and effective as daily insulin shots and a larger Phase 3 trial is currently being planned.
“We know that many people with type 2 diabetes prefer simplicity, meaning fewer injections and more convenience than what is currently provided with once- or twice-daily basal insulin treatment regimens,” says Harpreet Bajaj, lead investigator on the Phase 2 trial.
Developed by healthcare company Novo Nordisk, the novel treatment is named insulin icodec. It is a new insulin analogue designed with a half-life of around seven days. As well as modifying the insulin molecule to prevent enzymatic degradation, insulin icodec was designed to bind to albumin, a protein made by the liver, helping maintain slow and steady insulin release over a seven-day period.
The double-blind Phase 2 trial randomly allocated 247 subjects to either a placebo group receiving daily insulin injections alongside weekly placebo shots, or an active group receiving weekly icodec injections alongside daily placebo shots. At the end of the 26-week trial there was no difference in the number of insulin-related adverse events between the two groups. Weekly icodec treatments were also found to be as effective as daily insulin shots in managing each patient’s blood sugar levels.
“This phase 2 trial demonstrates the potential benefit insulin icodec could offer to people with type 2 diabetes in need of insulin therapy, aiding easy transition onto a new treatment option without the daily burden and complexity that is associated with current therapies and potentially even experience more time in good glycaemic control with low risk of hypoglycaemia,” says Bajaj.
Speaking to HealthDay, Robert Gabbay from the American Diabetes Association suggests there are significant benefits to be gained from a safe and effective weekly insulin shot. Besides the mere convenience of a once-weekly injection as opposed to daily shots, Gabbay points out there are many patients that struggle with consistently administering insulin every day, from young adults with unpredictable lifestyles to senior citizens who can often make errors with medications.
"Making insulin simpler for people facing physical or cognitive challenges who are cared for by another person is potentially a benefit of weekly insulin,” says Gabbay, who is not involved with the development of this new treatment. “The chance for an error is less if medication is given once a week rather than seven times.”
A larger Phase 3 trial is set to commence later this year, and a smaller trial investigating the weekly insulin icodec treatment in type 1 diabetic patients was recently completed with results yet to be published.
The new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Source: Novo Nordisk