The GLP-1 incretin is a naturally occurring hormone that is concerned with energy balance in the body. It is secreted by the gut in response to food consumption. GLP-1 functions to maintain blood glucose levels by increasing insulin production in the pancreas, decreasing the release of glucagon (a hormone which controls the release of glucose from the liver after meals), promoting a feeling of fullness after eating a meal and slowing the emptying of the stomach’s contents to allow more time for food absorption. The GLP-1 hormone is deficient in persons with diabetes.
GLP-1 analogues are synthetic, structurally altered versions of the naturally produced GLP-1 hormone. Unlike naturally produced GLP-1, which is rapidly inactivated by an enzyme called DPP-4, synthetic GLP-1 analogues are designed to have much longer lasting effects. Therefore, high levels of GLP-1 activity may be achieved in persons with diabetes by injecting a GLP-1 analogue. The use of GLP-1 analogues as treatment for type II diabetes is currently undergoing extensive clinical trials.