Obesity Drug Landscape Has A Contender From Biohaven, CEO Highlights Different Approach Amid Stiff Competition From Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly

Zinger Key Points
  • In animal studies, taldefgrobep-treated mice demonstrated increased lean mass by 25% and lost 11% of their baseline fat.
  • Biohaven expects to initiate a Phase 2 trial in the second quarter of 2024, and evaluate taldefgrobep alfa as monotherapy and combined with

Monday, Biohaven’s BHVN CEO, Vlad Coric, joined CNBC Fast Money to discuss the weight loss drug wars and the company’s experimental obesity drug.

Biohaven said it is developing an obesity drug that works differently from Novo Nordisk A/S’s NVO and Eli Lilly And Co’s LLY popular GLP-1 drugs.

The experimental obesity drug, dubbed taldefgrobep alfa (BHVN-2000), could prevent muscle loss while helping shed weight.

The company highlights that 20%-50% of the weight loss with GLP-1 drugs is actually muscle mass. 

“What we are trying to do is result in significant weight loss without losing muscle mass, which is what we see with the GLPs,” CEO Vlad Coric told CNBC.

So Biohaven is developing taldefgrobep alfa (t-alpha) and targets myostatin, which regulates muscle growth.

Coric added, “While blocking myostatin, taldefgrobep alfa will increase lean muscle mass, increase resting metabolism, and result in weight loss, and without the reduction in muscle mass.”

In October 2023, Biohaven presented preclinical data demonstrating the ability of taldefgrobep alfa to significantly reduce fat mass while increasing lean mass in an obese mouse model. 

In a mouse model of diet-induced obesity, untreated mice exhibited an increase in fat mass of 31%, while the taldefgrobep-treated mice demonstrated increases in lean mass of 25% from baseline and lost 11% of their baseline fat compared to vehicle (placebo) treated mice. 

Insulin and leptin levels were consistently lower in taldefgrobep-treated mice compared to untreated. 

Taldefgrobep alfa is currently in a Phase 1 trial for obesity, and Biohaven expects to initiate a Phase 2 trial in the second quarter of 2024.

Biohaven expects to evaluate taldefgrobep alfa as monotherapy and in combination with GLP-1s.

The CEO notes that GLPs have become the new standard of care for obesity. “What we want to demonstrate is that Taldefgrobep alfa can compete as monotherapy against the GLPs, but also we, there is an important synergistic role we can play in conjunction with GLPs,” Coric said.

Eli Lilly is also working on a similar product acquired via Versanis Bio’s $1.925 billion deal

Bimagrumab, also a myostatin inhibitor, can reduce fat mass while preserving muscle mass for people with obesity and obesity-related complications, Eli Lilly said.

Taldefgrobep alfa is also being developed for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness. Currently, it is in the Phase 3 stage of development, with topline data expected in the second half of 2024.

Price Action: BHVN shares are up 3.84% at $57.35 on the last check Tuesday.

Photo via Shutterstock

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