Novo Nordisk has presented new data on its diabetes drug liraglutide, indicating that it can both control blood glucose and reduce weight in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Liraglutide, an analog of glucagon-like peptide-1, is a potential competitior to Eli Lilly and Amylin’s Byetta (exenatide), which is seeing demand outstrip supply in the US market since its launch in the middle of last year. Novo has predicted blockbuster sales for its drug.

Phase II clinical results reported at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in Washington earlier this week showed that, in addition to its positive effects on blood glucose and weight loss in type 2 diabetics, liraglutide also improved the ability of pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin.

The trial showed that liraglutide reduced levels of haemoglobin A1C, the primary endpoint and a measure of a person's average blood glucose level over the past two to three months. Between 43% and 50% of patients who received liraglutide and 8% on placebo reached an A1C level of less than or equal to 7%, the target set by the ADA. in its treatment guidelines.

Additionally, participants on the highest dose of liraglutide lost significantly more weight than did those on placebo by the end of the 14-week study.

Liraglutide is gioven by injection once a day, while Byetta is given twice-daily, although Amylin and Lilly are working on a once-weekly formulation of their drug.

A Reuters report suggested that liraglutide is due for launch in 2009, just ahead of the expected introduction of once-weekly Byetta.