Zealand Pharma believes its weight loss drug petrelintide could be comparable to glucagon like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP1-RAs) while providing a better experience after a Phase Ib trial readout.

The Danish biotech company has shared data showing that its investigational weight loss drug petrelintide resulted in body weight reduction in the high dose cohort of 8.6%, compared with 1.7% in the placebo arm, in the second part of a Phase Ib trial.

“These data pave the way for rapid progression to Phase IIb trials of petrelintide and further support the potential of this long-acting amylin analogue to deliver weight loss comparable to GLP-1 receptor agonists with a better patient experience,” said Zealand Pharma CMO David Kendall.

The company’s share price rose by 23% after it shared the trial data.

“We look forward to initiation of the Phase IIb clinical trial of petrelintide in people living with overweight and obesity later in 2024,” Kendall added.

Zealand’s trial (NCT05613387) is a single-centred, double-blind trial evaluating the safety and tolerability of multiple doses of its investigational amylin analogue petrelintide in healthy volunteers.

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The trial, which was run by the PROFILE Institute for Metabolic Research in Neuss, Germany, enrolled 68 patients in total, with 48 patients enrolled in part two of the trial. The patients had a median baseline BMI of 29kg/m² and received 16 weekly doses of petrelintide.

Petrelintide was well-tolerated in part two of the trial, with no serious adverse events (AEs) observed.

In January 2024, Zealand Pharma raised around DKr1.45bn ($212.5m) to fund the advancement of its obesity pipeline.

Anti-obesity drugs will be the most impactful trend of 2024, according to GlobalData’s most recent biopharmaceutical update, The State of the Biopharmaceutical Industry 2024 Edition (Mid-Year Update).

GlobalData is the parent company of Clinical Trials Arena.

The trial success of Zealand Pharma’s petrelintide positions it as a rising challenger to fellow Danish company Novo Nordisk, whose obesity portfolio consists of Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide).

Novo Nordisk reported DKr61bn in sales from its diabetes and obesity portfolio, accounting for 93.3% of the total sales in the first quarter of this year. The company’s obesity portfolio raked in DKr11bn, with diabetes therapies, especially GLP-1 agonists, making up the rest.