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Treatment research project

Testing a drug for type 2 diabetes in people with type 1

Professor Timothy Barrett is a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Birmingham. Thanks to a generous donation from Steve and Sally Morgan in 2019, Timothy is running a trial to try to find out whether a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes can also be used to treat type 1.
Content last reviewed and updated: 17.08.2023

Tim Barrett


Semaglutide is a drug given to adults with type 2 diabetes, which helps lower their blood sugar levels. Timothy is testing whether semaglutide can help children and young people with type 1 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels alongside insulin. His goal is to make managing type 1 easier and more successful.

What is semaglutide?

Semaglutide helps reduce blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of insulin released, preventing glucagon release, and slowing how fast the stomach empties. Semaglutide is given by a weekly injection under the skin, just like insulin injections. It is a safe and effective treatment for adults with type 2 diabetes. You may have heard of semaglutide under the brand name Ozempic.

Why is Timothy testing semaglutide in people with type 1?

It’s important to try to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range to help prevent long-term complications of diabetes such as eye, kidney, nerve and heart damage. But most children and young people with type 1’s blood sugar levels are often too high, despite their best efforts. Timothy thinks that semaglutide could help these young people stop their blood glucose levels being too high, helping to limit the long-term damage to their organs.

Involving people with type 1 diabetes in the research

Timothy and his research team started by working with young people living with type 1 to plan a clinical trial of semaglutide. We are supporting Timothy to run a Young Person’s Advisory Group to help him develop each stage of his clinical trial.

A clinical trial giving semaglutide to people with type 1

Once all the planning is complete, the researchers will run their clinical trial at four hospitals in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leicester and Sheffield. 230 people with type 1 aged 10-24 years old will take part in the clinical trial. The research team will give the participants semaglutide for six months, plus their usual insulin treatment.

Can semaglutide help treat type 1 diabetes?

To find out whether semaglutide can help treat type 1, Timothy will observe how the drug affects the blood sugars of the young people who were taking it. He hopes the results will show that semaglutide can help improve blood sugar levels in young people with type 1 diabetes.

How could this research help people with type 1 diabetes?

If semaglutide does help people with type 1, the researchers will begin a campaign to encourage the NHS to offer the drug to all young people with type 1 who need it. He will do this by holding public meetings to discuss his findings. He will also recruit key diabetes stakeholders – including healthcare professionals, charities like JDRF and people with type 1 – to support his campaign. Having a drug to help children and young people with type 1 keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range will hopefully help reduce the number of them who develop diabetes complications.

Is JDRF funding any other research like this?

Clinical trials are a crucial part of ensuring a drug is safe for people to take. We are funding Professor Colin Dayan’s clinical trial platforms, which help improve the efficiency of clinical trials. This means more potential drugs can be tested, improving our chances of finding effective treatments and cures for type 1.

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