Have We Just Scratched the Surface With These Drugs?

GLP-1 medications like Ozempic can treat diabetes and lead to weight loss. But that might just be the beginning of their promising capabilities.


Ozempic and Wegovy, medications well known for their weight-loss effects, are back in the spotlight: but this time for a reason that extends far beyond the bathroom scale. Researchers are delving into the potential of these drugs — developed initially to combat type-2 diabetes — in tackling a surprisingly wide range of health issues.

From diabetic treatment to multifaceted therapy

Dr. Daniel Drucker, a researcher at the University of Toronto who played a crucial role in discovering the GLP-1 hormone, sheds light on the excitement surrounding new clinical trials for these drugs. Drucker explained to The Toronto Star that GLP-1 medications like Ozempic and Wegovy might hold promise in treating peripheral arterial disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even compulsive behaviours like smoking and alcohol addiction.

This potential stems from the presence of GLP-1 receptors throughout the body. These receptors work as mailboxes waiting for GLP-1, a natural hormone, to deliver messages. GLP-1 is a hormone, “a messenger that’s made in some cells and then it acts on other cells to communicate instructions,” said Drucker, who is also a 2021 Gairdner International Award laureate.

The versatility of GLP-1’s influence makes these drugs intriguing candidates for treating various illnesses. However, Dr. Hertzel Gerstein, a diabetes researcher at McMaster University, urges caution against getting ahead of ourselves.

“There is a tendency of hyperbole to happen in this area,” he said. “No drug is a panacea — no drug is going to cure everybody’s problem and no drug is going to work on every patient.”

Large-scale trials pave the way

Currently, extensive clinical trials are underway to assess the efficacy of GLP-1 drugs for conditions beyond diabetes. These trials are crucial in expanding the approved uses of these medications, but results may take several years to materialize. Gerstein explains:

“The whole class of (GLP-1 receptor agonists) has only been around for 15 years. And the major transformational studies have only been done in the last 10 years or so. And now, they’ve become this huge class of drug.”

While Ozempic and Wegovy might not be the ultimate solution for everything, their ability to influence various bodily functions opens doors for exciting new treatment options. The unfolding results of these trials will be key, but the future of GLP-1 drugs appears bright. They hold immense promise for improving human health across a wider spectrum of conditions.

‹ Previous post
Next post ›

Adam is a passionate advocate for women's and infants' health. With a Master of Science and a current Ph.D. from the University of Toronto's Department of Physiology, he has dedicated his academic and professional career to understanding and improving health outcomes for women and newborns. Adam's research is driven by a deep commitment to empowering women through education and by promoting the incredible advances in women's health care. As a proud Canadian, he is eager to shine a light on the contributions and progress made in his home country, aiming to inspire and contribute to a healthier future for all women and their families.