SAN DIEGO – A novel glucagonlike peptide-1 (GLP-1)/glucagon dual-receptor agonist, BI 456906, being developed by Boehringer Ingelheim and Zealand Pharma, led to “impressive” weight loss in a phase 2 dosing study of patients with overweight/obesity and type 2 diabetes – but this is early research.
Julio Rosenstock, MD, presented the study results, including weight loss and adverse events, at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.
At the highest tested dose (1.8 mg twice weekly subcutaneous injections), 57% of patients lost at least 5% of their initial body weight and 35% lost at least 10% of their initial body weight at 16 weeks.
In contrast, among the patients who received a 1-mg semaglutide dose as a comparator, 38% lost at least 5% of their initial body weight and 16% lost at least 10% of their initial body weight at study end.
This is “very promising data as an anti-obesity compound,” said Dr. Rosenstock, professor of medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The researchers enrolled 411 adults and randomized them into eight groups of roughly 50 patients each.
They compared six doses of BI 456906 (from 0.3 mg/week to 1.8 mg twice weekly) versus 1 mg/week of the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide (Wegovy, Novo Nordisk) versus placebo.
Patients had a mean initial weight of 97 kg (214 pounds).
After 4 months, on average, patients who received the highest tested dose of BI 456906 lost 9% of their initial weight or roughly 8.7 kg (19 pounds).
Patients who received semaglutide lost 5.4% of their initial weight or roughly 5.2 kg (11.5 pounds), and patients who received placebo lost only 1.2% of their initial weight
The main adverse events were gastrointestinal.
‘Exciting data,’ but still early days
“This is very exciting data. It comes from another experienced company with a track record of successful products with a new compound in a class where other related compounds have shown efficacy and safety,” Dan Bessesen, MD, president of The Obesity Society, who was not involved with this research, told this news organization in an email.
“The degree of weight loss is impressive for a 16-week study,” Dr. Bessesen, professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes at the University of Colorado at Denver, Aurora, added. “The longer-term weight loss will likely be more.”
The side-effect profile is not particularly concerning and is like other drugs in this general class, he said.
However, he also noted a few caveats. This was only a phase 2 study, “so we should not make firm conclusions about efficacy from a study like this, as the number of subjects studied at each dose is relatively small and the follow-up not long.”
In addition, “the dose of semaglutide is the old ‘diabetes’ dose (1 mg) not the weight-loss dose of 2.4 mg or the new diabetes dose of 2 mg. It is not a real comparison with the maximal approved dose of semaglutide. So, we cannot say that it will be better than semaglutide.”
The next hurdle is the “need to see phase 3 studies in a larger group of patients studied for a longer time. Then [the company] will need FDA approval, so it may be a bit of time” before this drug potentially enters the marketplace.
The “bottom line” is that this potential new antiobesity/diabetes drug is “very promising, but [it is] still a little early to say where it ultimately will go.”