A groundbreaking new anti-fat vaccine that can help burly Brits lose large amounts of weight could be introduced to the NHS.
Eli Lilly and Company’s Tirzepatid, sold under the brand name Mounjaro, is currently approved by the UK regulators for type 2 diabetes but could soon be given the green light to treat obesity as well.
It works in a similar way to celebrity-endorsed drugs Ozempic and Wegovey, which are hailed as “miracle” off-label weight-loss drugs.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is now assessing whether tirzepatide would be a wise use of NHS funds before recommending or discouraging its use across the healthcare system.
In a new study, patients taking the highest dose of the drug managed to lose an average of 23 percent of their body fat over 17 months.
In the study, which was presented but not yet peer-reviewed at the European Obesity Congress in Dublin, a team conducted an analysis of 2,539 adults who were overweight or obese and had at least one weight-related complication, excluding diabetes.
They were divided into groups that received either a placebo drug or doses of 5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg tirzepatide.
The proportion of people who lost weight compared to the start of the study, or those who lost more than five percent of their body weight overall, was assessed in the BMI categories 27 to 30, 30 to 35, 35 to 40 and 40 over.
Body composition was also assessed in a smaller group, who underwent special scans to examine their fat mass and muscle mass.
At the start of the study, participants typically weighed more than 16 kg (104.8 kg) and had a BMI of 38.
The mean body weight loss after 72 weeks of weekly injections was 16 percent for the 5 mg dose group, 21 percent for the 10 mg dose group, and 23 percent for the 15 mg group.
This compared to a two percent loss on placebo.
The proportion of people who lost five percent or more of their body weight was 89 percent on the 5 mg dose, 96 percent on the 10 mg dose, and 96 percent on the 15 mg dose.
This compared to 28 percent on placebo.
In addition, more than half of the people (56 percent) in the 10 mg group and 63 percent in the 15 mg group lost a fifth or more of their body weight, compared with one percent on placebo.
All doses of the drug resulted in weight loss, regardless of initial BMI.
Experts also looked at a small subset of people aged under 50, 50 to 65 and over 65 to see how much fat they had lost compared to their (lean) lean body mass.
The team said only a quarter of the weight lost was muscle mass, leading to an overall improvement in body composition.
Across all age groups, the change was nearly identical, suggesting there was no evidence of excessive muscle mass loss in older people, they added.
The authors said: “In this 72-week study of participants with obesity, tirzepatide once weekly resulted in a significant reduction in body weight that was consistent across all BMI categories, with an improvement in body composition that was clinically meaningful and consistent across all age groups .”
dr Louis Aronne of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York and consultant to Eli Lilly, who presented the results, said there was a need to understand the impact of weight loss on fat mass and muscle mass, particularly in the elderly.
He added, “This new analysis shows that around three quarters of weight loss is due to fat mass, which remains the same across different age groups.”
Research published last month by Eli Lilly showed that tirzepatide helped people with type 2 diabetes who were overweight or obese lose up to 16 percent of their body weight, or more than 34 pounds, in nearly 17 months.
Nice has approved another drug, Semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy, by the NHS for use against obesity.
It is also available under the Ozempic brand name.
Both drugs mimic an important gut hormone called GLP-1, which is activated after eating.
This increases insulin secretion and slows sugar secretion from the liver, which delays digestion and reduces appetite, making people feel fuller for longer.
However, side effects include vomiting and diarrhea, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It comes amid a fat-jab wave, with stars like Jeremy Clarkson and Elon Musk enjoying the weight-loss shortcut.
Semaglutide was also rumored to have helped Kim Kardashian fit into her Marilyn Monroe dress at last year’s Met Gala.