Close this search box.

Obesity drugs from Altimmune, Hengrui show potential; Lilly details Zepbound sleep apnea data

Today, a brief rundown of news from Altimmune, Jiangsu Hengrui, Eli Lilly and others that you might have missed from over the weekend, when the American Diabetes Association held its annual meeting.

After an early setback for Altimmune’s obesity shot pemvidutide, the biotechnology company appears to be back on track with additional data. The dual-acting drug, which stimulates the hormones GLP-1 and glucagon, helped participants in the Momentum trial lose an average of 16% of their body weight at the highest dose given, according to full trial results presented at ADA. That weight loss at 48 weeks is in line with what Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy produced at 68 weeks. The company also pointed to pemvidutide’s preservation of lean body mass, which could help differentiate it if approved. Trial investigators described the shot as “well-tolerated,” although early data cuts had revealed that nearly one-quarter of patients dropped out due to side effects. — Jonathan Gardner

An obesity drug Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceuticals recently licensed to a new startup company showed weight loss in a Phase 2 trial that appears “very competitive” to other drugs in development, wrote Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Prakhar Agrawal in a Sunday note to clients. Treatment with the “dual agonist” drug, code-named HRS9531, led to weight loss at 24 weeks of up to 17% among participants given the highest dose. The startup now developing it is backed by $400 million raised from investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, RTW Investments, Atlas Venture and Lyra Capital. — Ned Pagliarulo

Back in April, Eli Lilly released summary data on studies of weight loss medicine Zepbound in people with obesity and sleep apnea. A fuller presentation of results at the ADA meeting, also published in The New England Journal of Medicine Friday, revealed data on “secondary” measures. Among them was a finding that 42% of trial volunteers taking Zepbound alone and half of those taking it while using a breathing machine saw resolution of their condition when measured by sleep apnea events and daytime sleepiness scores. Lilly also said it has submitted the data to the Food and Drug Administration. An approval could allow for Medicare coverage of Zepbound for people with obesity and sleep apnea. — Jonathan Gardner

Three people with Type 1 diabetes achieved independence from insulin one year following treatment with a stem cell-derived cell therapy being developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, according to data presented at the ADA meeting on Friday. Researchers also reported the elimination of severe hypoglycemic events in these three individuals, who all had HbA1C levels below the recommended 7%. Nine other study participants with shorter follow-up also appear to be benefiting from treatment, showing blood sugar control and endogenous insulin secretion. — Ned Pagliarulo

Amylyx Pharmaceuticals is buying an experimental, blood sugar-regulating medicine from Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, which is currently selling assets as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Eiger’s medicine acts on a protein tied to GLP-1 — the hormone at the center of a revolution in obesity and diabetes care. On Friday, Amylyx agreed to acquire all the rights to the drug for $35 million, plus some other, smaller costs. Earlier this year, the company pulled its closely watched treatment for ALS from the market, and has been trying to recover. — Jacob Bell