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Combatting the global shortage of diabetes drugs

Health & Wellbeing

A new, cost-effective method could produce much higher quantities of the in-demand medication

Spotted: The ongoing rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world, along with the growing popularity of weight loss drugs like Ozempic, have caused a global shortage of semaglutide – a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor targeting ingredient that helps to manage both conditions and reduces glucose levels. Semaglutide has a hydrophobic fatty acid component that does not easily dissolve in water, which makes it complex and expensive to produce.

An international team of scientists led by Professor Akhter Hossain at the Florey Institute has developed an alternative to semaglutide that involves fewer chemical steps and produces a yield that is ten times that of semaglutide.

Through a process called glycosylation, the team was able to create an alternative form of GLP-1 that is ‘hydrophilic’, meaning it is much more easily dissolved in water and cheaper to produce. “We have tested our candidate for short-term [use] in animal models and they have shown effects like semaglutide,” said Dr Chaitra Chandrashekar, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Hossain’s lab. “Our future studies will involve long-term studies using obese animal models, which might be followed by clinical trials.”

Although further testing is required, the team’s method could allow more drugs like semaglutide to be synthesised quicker in future, helping to boost the accessibility of these kinds of medications.

Scientists around the world are working tirelessly to find new, more accessible, and more effective treatments for various health conditions. For instance, Springwise has spotted new antibiotics that target drug-resistant infections and bio-based therapeutics for mental health treatments.

Written By: Lauryn Berry

Website: florey.edu.au

Contact: florey.edu.au/contact

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