Ozempic, Wegovy enter trials for treating addiction, dementia

Researchers in the U.S. and U.K. are testing Type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic and weight loss therapy Wegovy for their potential in diminishing dementia and addiction, CNBC reported Sept. 7. 

Ozempic and Wegovy are glucagon-like peptide receptor agonists made by Novo Nordisk, and they've been in high demand for about a year after free celebrity endorsements and TikTok trends for weight loss. In August, Wegovy scored two wins in phase 3 studies for cardiovascular indications, and early research is pointing to addiction and dementia. 

Past research has indicated GLP-1s can reduce amyloid and tau on the brain — two proteins connected to dementia. At the University of Oxford in England, a phase 1 and 2 trial is underway to see if GLP-1s can minimize the risk of dementia. 

FDA-approved GLP-1 drugs currently have two indications: weight loss or Type 2 diabetes. Because they lower "food noise," or thoughts about eating, the same result could be applied to satiety with alcohol and drugs.

A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is investigating Ozempic and Wegovy as possible treatments for alcohol and drug addiction in humans after finding success in animal studies, CNBC reported. Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and the University of Baltimore are also launching research into how GLP-1s can affect alcoholism. 

"If those two studies both read out, and they're both positive, it's hard to overstate the effect this will have on the field," Kyle Simmons, PhD, a professor of pharmacology and physiology at Oklahoma State University who is leading one of the alcohol studies, told CNBC.

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