Altimmune Targets Obesity Market With Weight-Loss Drug That Preserves Lean Muscle Mass

Overweight girl using scales near measuring tape on wooden floor, selective focus

Overweight girl using scales near measuring tape on wooden floor, selective focus

Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Altimmune’s obesity candidate pemvidutide strongly preserved lean muscle mass, with fat accounting for more than 78% of weight lost by participants in a Phase II study.

Pictured: Girl stepping on a scale with a tape measure in front of her/iStock, Liudmila Chernetska

Altimmune’s investigational obesity treatment pemvidutide preserved lean muscle mass while inducing weight loss in adults with obesity, with the majority of the drop in body weight from fat, according to a data readout of the Phase II MOMENTUM study unveiled on Sunday.

The data, presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 84th Scientific Sessions, showed that patients treated with 1.2-mg pemvidutide achieved a 10.3% mean weight reduction at 48 weeks. This increased to 11.2% in those on 1.8-mg pemvidutide, and to 15.6% in participants given the 2.4-mg dose. By comparison, placebo counterparts lost only 2.2% of their body weight at 48 weeks.

Fifty pemvidutide-treated patients also underwent full-body MRI scans, revealing that Altimmune’s obesity candidate strongly preserved lean body mass. According to the body composition analysis, 78.1% of the weight lost by participants was attributable to fat, while only 21.9% was due to lean muscle mass loss.

In addition, pemvidutide reduced serum lipid levels and improved participants’ blood pressure. MOMENTUM did not detect clinically meaningful spikes in heart rate or imbalances in arrhythmias and other cardiac events.

Altimmune CEO Vipin Garg in a statement said that the biotech is “pleased” with these data from MOMENTUM, which “highlight the impressive lean mass preservation achieved with pemvidutide.”

Garg said “preservation of lean mass, which is primarily muscle tissue, is believed to be important in maintaining healthy weight loss and physical function,” adding that pemvidutide’s performance in MOMENTUM is “better” than what has been reported with diet and exercise programs. He contends that pemvidutide also trumps other incretin-based weight-loss treatments, for which lean mass loss accounts for around 40% of the total weight lost.

The degree of muscle preservation observed in MOMENTUM could contribute to the “differentiation of pemvidutide in the treatment of obesity,” according to Garg.

Pemvidutide is a peptide-based agonist of the GLP-1 and glucagon receptors. Activating GLP-1 receptors helps suppress appetite, while targeting the glucagon pathway can boost energy expenditure and lower liver fat and serum lipid levels. Overall, pemvidutide’s mechanism of action mimics the effects of exercise and diet on weight loss.

According to its website, Altimmune is scheduled for an end-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA slated for the third quarter of 2024. If approved for obesity, pemvidutide “has the potential to be an important treatment option” for adults with obesity.

The biotech is also positioning the drug candidate for metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis, for which it is running the Phase II IMPACT study. A topline readout is expected in the first quarter of 2025.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.
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