Altimmune's Weight Loss Drug Shows Promise in Clinical Trials

Altimmune’s weight loss drug proved effective in mid-stage trials, the drug company announced last week. The announcement comes at a time when weight loss drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound are in high demand.

Pemvidutide, Altimmune's new drug, completed a 48-week phase 2 obesity trial and minimized the drop in muscle mass among participants. Losing more fat and less muscle could be a key to the drug’s potential market success.

Altimmune is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that focuses on therapeutics for individuals with obesity or liver diseases. Altimmune was granted Fast Track designation for its upcoming trials in October. Pemvidutide is developed to treat obesity and metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH).

MASH, formerly known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is the inflammation of the liver caused by excess fat cells. Those with obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or high cholesterol are at increased risk of MASH.

In Altimmune’s newly released MOMENTUM Phase 2 trial, 25.5% of weight loss came from lean mass while 74.5% of weight loss was from fat tissue. The numbers mimic weight loss results seen from diet and exercise routines.

Altimmune’s weight loss drug is a peptide-based GLP-1/glucagon dual receptor. The GLP-1 receptor suppresses appetite, while the glucagon receptor increases energy expenditure, according to the biotech company. Drugs like Ozempic, which is a semaglutide injection, only mimic the GLP-1 hormone that is released in response to eating.

“Based on compelling weight loss, a clean safety profile, robust reductions in serum lipids and blood pressure, and now preservation of lean mass observed in our clinical trials, we believe that pemvidutide has the potential to distinguish itself broadly from other therapies for the treatment of obesity,” Altimmune President and Chief Executive Officer Vipin K. Garg said in a company statement.

In other trial results released in November, Altimmune recorded an average weight loss of 15.6% from a 2.4mg dose of pemvidutide after 48 weeks. Following treatment, weight loss continued.

More than 30% of participants reached 20% weight loss from a 2.4mg dose. Also, participants recorded improvements in blood pressure without meaningful increases in heart rate.

“Preservation of lean mass during weight loss is critical, since excessive loss of lean mass has been associated with negative outcomes, such as sarcopenia and bone fractures, especially in women and the elderly,” Altimmune Chief Medical Officer Scott Harris said in a release. “There is a growing appreciation that the quality of weight loss is as important as the quantity of weight loss. Given these new body composition data, the robust reductions in serum lipids, and the class-leading reduction of hepatic fat content, we believe that pemvidutide, if approved, could stand out as an attractive option for weight loss and weight maintenance.”

The next step for Altimmune is to conduct its IMPACT biopsy-driven phase 2b MASH trial to test the drug’s efficiency on MASH-specific patients. Results for the 24-week trial are expected to come in the first quarter of 2025. More late-stage trials are still needed to test the drug for obesity.

Weight-loss drug popularity

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says obesity is prevalent in more than 40% of Americans. Weight loss drugs are becoming a popular way to shed easy pounds. A KFF Health Tracking Poll from August found that 45% of Americans would be interested in a safe and effective weight loss drug.

One of the most popular ways weight-loss drugs are making the go-around is via social media, especially TikTok. Views under #Ozempic have garnered over 1.5 billion views, with many of those videos promoting weight loss journeys from the drug.

Some weight loss drugs may help be a quick fix, but the CDC notes gradual, steady weight loss often leads to long-term success. Having a regular healthy eating pattern and regular physical fitness are two keys to healthy weight loss.

For those interested in weight-loss drugs, remember to contact your doctor before engaging in any treatments.

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prefix 9 days ago
What are the side effects of this drug and when and how are people getting on the clinical trial?

Are there any blogs for people on this trial that are sharing their experiences?