In 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide (11% of men and 15% of women) were classed as obese (World Health Organisation); in the UK numbers have more than tripled since 1980, so over a quarter of the population is now obese. This can lead to other serious health-related illnesses including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnoea as well as increasing the risk for many common cancers.
Professor John Wilding, who leads Obesity and Endocrinology research in the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, has extensive research and clinical experience surrounding the pathophysiology and treatment of both obesity and type 2 diabetes and extensive experience in the design and conduct of clinical trials in this field. His expertise is utilised by a number of large pharmaceutical companies looking to develop new treatments for obesity – an area of major challenge.
Working with the global healthcare company Novo Nordisk, Professor Wilding has been fundamental in helping to prove that liraglutide, a GLP-1 analogue conventionally used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes is also an effective treatment in non-diabetic obese individuals by helping them to lose weight.
Professor Wilding’s said: “The biology of GLP-1 has been a focus of my research for 20 years; in particular I was an author on the first paper to show that GLP-1 was involved in appetite regulation (Turton et al, Glucagon-like peptide 1 (7-36) amide, a central regulator of feeding Nature 1996 379 69-72) so being involved from basic research, through working with pharma companies on the development of a treatment and following it right through to approval is really quite exciting.”
Professor Wilding was an investigator in the multi-centre Phase 3 SCALETM clinical trial, and selected on the basis of his reputation and experience to be a member of the writing group that reviewed the data and prepared it for publication.
He also gave supporting statements to the European Medicines Agency reinforcing the clinical need for this drug in weight management in obese adults - approval was recently granted and results from the study have been published in New England Journal of Medicine. (NEJM 2015, 373:11-22 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411892).