Science & Medicine: The next Ozempic?
Dr. Carolina Solis-Herrera is a physician-scientist, associate professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Also an active collaborator with the Division of Diabetes, she serves as medical director of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Health.
Solis-Hererra has been studying SGLT2 inhibitors, which include medications like Jardiance, for 15 years. SGLT2 inhibitors help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes by blocking the kidney’s ability to reabsorb glucose, but they do much more than that.
“They increase your ketones and we believe that ketones are a super fuel for the heart, for the kidneys,” Solis-Herrera said. “And we also believe that in aging in our older adults, there's that process of aging (called) frailty where we start losing muscle mass, where we start becoming more insulin resistant, our sugar might start coming up. We believe that SGLT2 inhibitors help patients with frailty improve their frailty.”
Solis-Herrera is currently studying SGLT2 inhibitors in older adults with prediabetes and obesity. The secret to their success, she suspects, is the improvement of the function of the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell. She hopes her research will provide a definitive answer.
“We want to know if SGLT2 inhibitors help with frailty, if they help with mitochondrial function at the molecular level, if they help with insulin resistance, if they help with their cardiopulmonary function, if they help with their quality of life,” she said.
SGLT2 inhibitors, like GLP1 receptor agonists — the class of drug that includes Ozempic and Wegovy — are also associated with weight loss, but are not approved for use as a medication for obesity. Wegovy is approved for weight loss.
Science & Medicine is a collaboration between TPR and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, about how scientific discovery in San Antonio advances the way medicine is practiced everywhere.