Zealand Deepens Weight-Loss Portfolio With Strong Phase Ib Data for GLP-1 Alternative

obese fat man preparing Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels

obese fat man preparing Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels

imyskin/Getty Images

Zealand Pharma’s petrelintide cut body weight by more than 8% on average, with a good overall safety and tolerability profile.

Pictured: Man prepares his GLP-1 injection/iStock, imyskin

Zealand Pharma on Thursday posted interim Phase Ib data for its investigational amylin analog petrelintide, touting strong weight reduction and a favorable tolerability profile. Zealand is positioning the once weekly subcutaneous injection as a competitor to the currently dominant GLP-1 receptor agonists, offering better tolerability and higher-quality weight loss, with preserved lean mass.

The Phase Ib results “further support the potential of this long-acting amylin analog to deliver weight loss comparable to GLP-1 receptor agonist with a better patient experience,” CMO David Kendall said in a statement.

Petrelintide is a long-acting analog of amylin, a neuroendocrine hormone typically produced in the pancreas’ beta cells and co-secreted with insulin in response to blood glucose levels. After 16 weeks of treatment, patients saw a mean weight reduction of 8.6% from baseline, whereas placebo comparators had shed only 1.7% of their body weight at the same time point.

As for safety, petrelintide was found to be well-tolerated, with no serious or severe adverse events. All of the gastrointestinal side effects were mild, except for one patient who reported moderate nausea and vomiting. This patient discontinued petrelintide after the third dose. No other patient dropped out of the study. Injection site reactions developed in only a few patients, and investigators found no evidence of anti-drug antibodies.

According to Zealand’s news release, these topline data are from an interim cut and the Phase Ib study will continue to assess patients through post-treatment follow-ups. Nevertheless, Kendall found these early results “exciting and compelling,” he said in a statement. “These results support our conviction that petrelintide is very well tolerated and can potentially play an important role as an alternative to incretin-based therapies” for overweight and obesity, he said.

Zealand expects to “rapidly progress” petrelintide through a Phase IIb clinical trial, scheduled to begin later this year. The company will also share more details from the Phase Ib study at an upcoming scientific congress.

Beyond petrelintide, Zealand’s obesity pipeline also includes the Boehringer Ingelheim–partnered survodutide, which in June 2023 reduced body weight by approximately 20% in a Phase II study. The partners are now studying the GLP-1/glucagon receptor dual agonist in the Phase III SYNCHRONIZE clinical development program, with three studies launched in May 2023.

Zealand is also advancing dapiglutide, which targets both the GLP-1 and GLP-2 receptors. In May 2024, the biotech reported topline data from the Phase I DREAM study, which showed modest weight loss in patients who were given the candidate.

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 is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, with more than eight years of experience writing about medicine, biotech and science. He can be reached at tristan.manalac@biospace.com, tristan@tristanmanalac.com or on LinkedIn.