Welsh Government
Practice-changing Welsh diabetes research shared across the pond

Practice-changing Welsh diabetes research shared across the pond

12 June 2019

Professor Stephen Bain, Health and Care Research Wales specialty lead for diabetes and director of the Diabetes Research Unit Cymru, has spoken at the world’s largest meeting on diabetes – the American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions - in San Francisco, California.

The Scientific Sessions offer researchers and health care professionals an opportunity to share ideas and learn about the significant advances in diabetes research, treatment and care.

Professor Bain presented as part of a symposium titled ‘Oral Semaglutide – The PIONEER Program Trials’. Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

“The PIONEER Programme is a large pre-licence assessment of oral semaglutide, including more than 9,500 people with type 2 diabetes, spread around the world,” explained Professor Bain.

This medicine has also shown efficacy in preventing against adverse cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes, such as heart attacks and stroke.

The drug which Professor Bain had a role in developing at the Joint Clinical Research Facility in Swansea is the first tablet form of the GLP-1 therapy class. In the past, the drug could only be offered by self-injection.

The tablet has been made possible by a chemical which can change the PH of the stomach, meaning that the semaglutide isn’t instantly dissolved by stomach acid, and it also enhances absorption across the stomach lining.

This offers patients a better quality of life by reducing the need for injections and it also has other benefits such as better opportunities for weight loss.

“This is the first time that a peptide treatment for type 2 diabetes has been available as a tablet formulation. Although the injectable treatments are largely painless and some can be given on a weekly basis, most people prefer to take a tablet,” Professor Bain said.

As well as the exposure at this international event, the results of the PIONEER program trials have been published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It is clear that there is huge interest in this therapy advance,” concluded Professor Bain, “especially as it is now estimated that 4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes and it affects 7% of the population in Wales."