Korean big pharmas in race for new obesity treatments

2020.10.07 15:57:14 | 2020.10.07 15:58:41

[Photo provided by LG Chem Ltd.]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by LG Chem Ltd.]

Korea’s large pharmaceutical companies are speeding up in the race to bring more effective obesity drugs to the market based on scientific advances amid a rising prevalence of the disorder worldwide.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical released the latest efficacy data of its investigational LAPS Glucagon Analog at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Virtual Meeting 2020 held late last month. While obesity treatments under development or being used focus on appetite suppression, Hanmi Pharm’s LAPS Glucagon has a complex mechanism of action to suppress lipid absorption and burn energy for weight loss in addition to appetite suppression. In animal models, the investigational drug showed higher weight loss figures than that of a GLP-1 analog, which is commonly used in obesity treatment.

As a result of long-term administration of LAPS Glucagon, hepatic and plasma lipids continued to decrease and insulin sensitivity improved, according to the company. When insulin sensitivity increases, blood sugar does not accumulate in the body as it is immediately used as energy, leading to loses weight. Hanmi Pharm is currently conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the repeated use of LAPS Glucagon in obese patients in the United States.

LG Chem is paying attention to the treatment of several types of rare hereditary obesity. The company’s investigational drug LB54640, which is in a Phase 1 clinical trial in the U.S., was recently granted the orphan drug designation from the FDA, a rare case for a Phase 1 drug. LB54640 is an oral obesity treatment that targets specific protein receptors, and it prevents bulimia, where hunger persists due to abnormalities in the receptor pathway.

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LG Chem bets high on the drug’s marketability for its convenient once daily oral administration in addition to positive preclinical study results that showed not only weight loss but also fewer central nervous and cardiovascular side effects. The company plans to complete a Phase 1 clinical trial in the U.S. by the first half of 2022, and then conduct Phase 2 and 3 trials in parallel in patients with rare hereditary obesity.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical recently obtained a regulatory nod for a Phase 3 clinical trial of DWP16001, an SGLT-2 inhibitor for diabetes treatment, in Korea. If successful, the drug could be the country’s SGLT-2 inhibitor for diabetes treatment. SGLT-2 is a glucose transporter in the kidney responsible for the most of glucose reabsorption. Inhibiting this transporter leads to increased renal excretion of glucose. As much sugar is released through urination, it helps reduce body weight.

JW Pharmaceutical`s dyslipidemia treatment Livalo is also drawing attention for its fewer side effects than existing dyslipidemia treatments.

By Seo Jin-woo and Minu Kim

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