Recent trials of obesity drugs have indicated their effectiveness in treating various health conditions beyond weight loss. Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy weight loss injection has shown significant reductions in heart failure-related symptoms among at-risk patients in late-stage trials. This follows the drug’s role in reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, as demonstrated in Novo Nordisk’s SELECT study.
Researchers are now exploring whether the mechanisms used by appetite-regulating weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro could be applied to treat other conditions, such as alcohol and drug addiction. These drugs imitate a naturally occurring gut hormone that regulates appetite in the brain. Preclinical data has suggested the efficacy of GLP-1 medications, to which these drugs belong, in reducing drug and alcohol intake among animals.
Trials are underway to validate these findings in humans. If successful, these drugs could have applications in treating addiction and cravings for substances like cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids.
Additionally, some researchers believe these drugs could be used in the treatment of dementia and cognitive disorders. Evidence suggests that GLP-1 drugs can reduce the buildup of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
While these potential applications offer promising therapeutic options, they also present challenges, including the high costs and supply shortages of these drugs.