Obesity medications ‘could reduce risk of multiple sclerosis’

Obesity medications 'could reduce risk of multiple sclerosis'

The use of obesity medications – including those that treat diabetes and promote weight loss – has been linked to reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

This is according to a study that used real-world data from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders, findings showed that medicines that activate the GLP-1 receptor – which lowers blood glucose or blood sugar levels – in particular showed potential protective effects against MS.

The researchers collaborated to explore a potential relationship between weight loss-inducing drugs and MS risk. The team used data from the FDA’s side effects database.

Lower risk

‘Drug repurposing, defined as researching new indications for already approved drugs, is gaining attention as a rapid and cost-efficient strategy for developing new treatments,’ the researchers said.

Medications for diabetes and weight loss that were analysed included semaglutide (sold under the brand names Ozempic and Rybelsus for diabetes, and Wegovy for weight loss) and dulaglutide (sold as Trulicity).

Findings revealed that several anti-diabetic weight loss medications looked at were linked with a lower risk of MS. For example, semaglutide significantly reduced the likelihood of developing MS by 76.2%. Meanwhile, dulaglutide reduced it by 83.5%.

The researchers added that semaglutide, dulaglutide, and liraglutide all work by activating GLP-1. This is believed to ease diabetes and promote weight loss by reducing blood glucose levels.

The researchers added: ‘Overall, this study hints at the possibility of considering anti-diabetic drugs with weight loss-inducing effects, especially GLP-1 receptor agonists, for potential repurposing opportunities in MS.’


This comes as researchers at the University of Birmingham have received funding for a project to create mouth cancer-detecting lollipops.

The flavoured lollipop could be set to speed up diagnoses and identify cancer at an earlier stage.

They will be made using a type of smart material called hydrogel. This would be designed to capture proteins from the patient’s saliva. The hydrogel concentrates and labels proteins using a fluorescent marker, which then attaches to the hydrogel with a photocleavable bond.

The hydrogel would then be taken to a laboratory, where it will release its captured proteins when exposed to a specific colour of light, allowing any proteins produced by mouth cancer to be observed.

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