Research & Development

Amgen’s obesity drug appears promising with few side effe cts

Amgen Inc’s new obesity drug has appeared promising in its small phase 1 trial, meaning it will be able to go ahead with a larger mid-stage trial in 2023. The trial demonstrated that patients were able to maintain their weight loss for 70 days following the highest dose of the drug, known as AMG133.
Amgen has announced that the highest monthly dose of AMG133 resulted in a mean weight loss of 14.5% after 12 weeks, however the patients’ average maintained weight loss fell to 11.2% after 150 days. 
Side effects were generally mild and quickly resolved, however they included nausea and vomiting, according to Amgen.
The US CDC has estimated that 40% of the US population is obese, costing up to $173bn each year, so a new and promising obesity treatment is a hugely positive step. This is especially significant considering that obesity is a known cause of type 2 diabetes, as well as being linked to heart disease, some cancers and more severe COVID-19.
Like many previous obesity drugs, Amgen’s AMG133 targets GLP-1, a hormone that causes the feeling of fullness following eating, however AMG133 also attempts to halt activity of the gene GIP, which reduces the rate at which stomach acid is secreted and slows the rate at which food travels from the stomach.
If the trials continue to go as planned, it is expected that a phase 3 trial could begin in 2024, with the drug potentially launching in 2026 or 2027, if it is ultimately approved.
Saptarsi Haldar, head of cardiovascular metabolic discovery at Amgen, explained that the drug’s development identified genetic signals associated with lower levels of fat, lower body weight and healthy metabolic profiles, adding: “Genetics clearly showed in multiple large populations that decreased activity genetically of the GIP receptor gene was associated with lower body mass index (BMI).”