Aaron Kelly, PhD, and Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD

Community Collaborative Grant Recipients Published in JAMA Pediatrics, Results Garner Media Attention

Medical School Assistant Professor Aaron Kelly, PhD, and Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, received a Community Collaborative Grant from CTSI in 2010 to study the effects of the drug exenatide on extreme pediatric obesity. On Monday, February 4, the encouraging results of that study were published online in JAMA Pediatrics. 

Exenatide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist currently approved for adults with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kelly and his team conducted a three-month, placebo-controlled trial followed by a three-month open-label extension where medication was offered to all participants. 22 individuals between 12 and 19 years of age completed the trial. Participants who received exenatide experienced a greater reduction in BMI compared with placebo (-2.7 percent), and a further reduction in BMI during the open-label period (cumulative reduction of 4 percent). The team also observed a reduction, though not statistically significant, in systolic blood pressure. 

The authors conclude that "...data from the current study provide evidence that GLP-1 receptor agonist treatment reduces BMI and elicits a potentially meaningful reduction in SPB in adolescents with severe obesity." Kelly's team collaborated with Kyle Rudser, PhD, of the CTSI Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center to complete the analysis and interpretation of the data; Rudser is also an author of the JAMA Pediatrics article. 

The CTSI Community Collaborative Grants are meant to generate pilot data for further research and funding. The authors discussed future directions for this line of research, concluding that future clinical trials should be conducted over a longer duration and should look at other health outcomes, beyond BMI and systolic blood pressure. The study was covered by Reuters and U.S. News and World Report, among others.