Semaglutide vs AOD9604: What Are The Differences?

In this article, we will take a close look at semaglutide and AOD9604, two peptide drugs with potential uses in weight management. We will explore their mechanisms of action, uses, safety profiles, and the key differences between them.
Jakub Hantabal

Jakub Hantabal

Postgraduate student of Precision Cancer Medicine at the University of Oxford, and a data scientist.

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What is semaglutide and what is it used for?

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, a type of medication that mimics a hormone that regulates the appetite. Chemically, semaglutide is a peptide, which activates its target receptor, leading to increase in insulin production, and inhibition of glucagon release. Glucagon is a hormone that acts to increase blood glucose levels. [1, 2, 3,]

Semaglutide is used to stimulate insulin production as well as manage weight, making it a key treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity [ 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

It is available both as a tablet taken orally and an injection under the skin (subcutaneous). The molecule is the main ingredient of three medications approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, the US medical regulatory authority) for weight loss: Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus. Ozempic is primarily used for the management of type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is specifically approved for weight loss. Rybelsus is a semaglutide tablet approved for management for diabetes management [13, 6, 7, 8].

In addition to its primary uses, semaglutide has shown potential in treating other conditions. Research into these is still ongoing, however, preliminary data suggest it may have a role in managing type 1 diabetes mellitus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It has also been associated with potential benefits for kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple pulmonary diseases [5, 7].

Is semaglutide safe?

As with every medication approved for human use, it has been studied rigorously in animal models and clinical trials to establish a robust safety profile. However, semaglutide can have side effects, which can differ from person to person. Most common are gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain.

In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, semaglutide can cause other side effects, which are, however, less frequent. These include fatigue, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and injection-site reactions, as well as kidney injury. Semaglutide has also been linked to an increased risk for pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and gallstones [14]. In some cases, semaglutide can cause serious side effects that require immediate medical attention such as vision changes, fainting or dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and mood changes [15]. Additionally, there is anecdotal evidence that semaglutide may interact with hormonal contraceptives and reduce their efficacy. This, however, requires further investigation.

It is important to consult any potential side effects with a doctor. Most of the side effects can be managed either pharmacologically with medication or adjusting the dose of semaglutide, alongside potential lifestyle changes that can be implemented.

What is AOD9604?

AOD9604 is a synthetic peptide that mimics a part of the human growth hormone. As the 16 amino acids in AOD9604 are the domain of the growth hormone that signals to the fat deposits to release fat, the peptide is used as a supplement to reduce body fat. AOD9604 gained popularity in the fitness community.

AOB9604 is currently not approved for human use anywhere in the world. In fact, the drug is banned by law, as well as classified as a performance enhancement drug banned by the World Anti-doping agency.

We recently published a blog on the benefits and side effects of AOD9604.

Conclusion: What are the differences?

While semaglutide and AOD9604 are both peptides that can be used for weight loss, they differ fundamentally. Here are the differences summarised:

  • Target and mode of action: While semaglutide activates a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor, AOD9604 mimics the growth hormone and interacts with its receptors.
  • Clinical evidence: While semaglutide has been proven effective in both management of diabetes and inducing weight loss, AOD9604 failed to induce weight loss in all six clinical trials.
  • Clinical use: Semaglutide is routinely prescribed by doctors. AOD9604 is not used in medicine, and instead is used by fitness enthusiasts as a supplement.
  • Legal and regulatory: Semaglutide is approved by both FDA and EMA (European Medicines Agency) for management of diabetes and weight loss. Contrastingly, the use of AOD9604 may be illegal in some countries, it is banned in professional sports, and it is not approved for use in humans as a weight loss drug by any medical regulatory authorities.

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Jakub Hantabal

Jakub Hantabal

Jakub is a postgraduate student of Precision Cancer Medicine at the University of Oxford, and a data scientist. His research focuses on the impact of hypoxia on genetic and proteomic changes in cancer. Jakub also consults and collaborates with multiple institutions in the United Kingdom and Slovakia supporting research groups with advanced data analysis, and he also co-founded an NGO organising educational events in data science.