Eli Lilly says weight loss drug shows promise as treatment for fatty liver disease

Eli Lilly says weight loss drug shows promise as treatment for fatty liver disease

An injection pen of Zepbound, Eli Lilly’s weight loss drug, is displayed in New York City, U.S., December 11, 2023. 

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Eli Lilly on Tuesday stated its extremely in style drug used for weight loss and diabetes showed promise as a treatment for fatty liver disease in a midstage trial

The preliminary research outcomes add to an extended checklist of potential well being advantages of the treatment, recognized as tirzepatide, in addition to serving to sufferers shed important kilos and regulate blood sugar below the drug’s model names, Zepbound and Mounjaro, respectively. Those further advantages might doubtlessly broaden the restricted insurance coverage protection for weight loss medicine, most of which price near $1,000 monthly. 

The pharmaceutical large stated in its fourth-quarter earnings release that tirzepatide confirmed optimistic leads to a part two trial as a treatment for a critical type of liver disease known as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis, or MASH.

There are at present no cures or medicines obtainable to instantly deal with MASH. The situation is characterised by extra fats buildup and irritation within the liver and may result in liver scarring, additionally recognized as fibrosis. An estimated 3% to 5% of adults within the U.S. are affected by MASH, in keeping with some research. 

The trial adopted round 190 adults with MASH with extreme phases of liver scarring, Eli Lilly executives stated on an earnings name Tuesday.

At all dose sizes, tirzepatide met the trial’s predominant purpose of serving to sufferers turn out to be freed from the disease with no worsening of liver scarring in contrast with individuals who didn’t obtain the treatment, in keeping with the corporate’s earnings presentation. 

For instance, round 74% of sufferers who obtained the very best tirzepatide dose of 15 milligrams grew to become freed from MASH with no worsening of liver scarring after a yr, in contrast with round 13% of those that obtained a placebo. 

It was much less clear how a lot the drug lowered liver scarring, which was the second purpose of the trial. Eli Lilly didn’t disclose whether or not tirzepatide met that purpose, however the firm stated the drug’s impact on lowering liver scarring was “clinically significant” throughout all dose sizes. 

Eli Lilly is “equally inspired” by tirzepatide’s leads to lowering liver scarring, the corporate’s chief scientific officer, Dan Skovronsky, stated on the decision. 

“There’s nothing unhealthy within the information that may cease us from going to part three,” he added. “I feel having a optimistic part two trial right here with actually significant information in MASH obligates us to consider subsequent steps.” 

He famous that hostile occasions have been per different research on tirzepatide in sufferers with weight problems and diabetes, with out offering additional particulars. Previous trials on Zepbound confirmed that sufferers skilled diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, amongst different signs.

Eli Lilly will current the total outcomes from the part two trial at a medical convention later this yr.

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Leerink Partners analyst David Risinger known as the preliminary trial outcomes “optimistic” in a analysis observe Tuesday. He stated a bigger and longer part three research might improve the chances of tirzepatide inflicting a statistically important lower in liver scarring.

Tirzepatide works by activating two naturally produced hormones within the physique: glucagon-like peptide-1, recognized as GLP-1, and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, or GIP.

The mixture is claimed to sluggish the emptying of the abdomen, making individuals really feel full for longer and suppressing urge for food by slowing starvation indicators within the mind.

Several different drugmakers try to develop therapies for MASH. 

They embrace Eli Lilly’s predominant rival Novo Nordisk, which is learning semaglutide, additionally recognized as Wegovy for weight loss and Ozempic for diabetes, in a late-stage trial in MASH. But a midstage trial on semaglutide in MASH sufferers had mixed results, in keeping with information launched in 2022. 

Unlike tirzepatide, semaglutide solely targets GLP-1.

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